In a cardiovascular disease known as atherosclerosis, plaques accumulate in vessel regions with low or disturbed blood flow. The endothelial cells that line these vessels somehow sense the unusual patterns of mechanical stress on the vessel walls.
In the 15 Sept. 2005 issue of Nature (Vol. 437, No. 7057, pp. 426-431), Martin Alexander Schwartz and his colleagues show that three proteins, which are expressed in vessel endothelial cells, are required for detecting this mechanical stress. They further demonstrate that each protein has a distinct role in converting the mechanical force into a biochemical signal inside the cells. These new findings shed light on how disruptions in blood flow stimulate endothelial cells and trigger the formation of atherosclerotic plaques. Therefore, the results could help lead to the discovery of new drugs to stop the atherosclerotic process from happening.
Martin Alexander Schwartz (The Scripps Research Institute, La Jolla, CA and University of Virginia, Charlottesville, VA, USA)
(C) Nature press release.
Message posted by: Trevor M. D'Souza
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