Heart disease could be prevented
Heart disease could be prevented by anti-inflammatory drugs.This has
been shown by a large-scale international genetic study in which the
University Medical Center (UMC) Utrecht took part.The results appear
today (March 2010) in The Lancet.
The signaling substance `interleukin-6' is involved in inflammatory
responses and plays a role in the development of coronary heart
disease.Drugs that block the action of interleukin-6 are thought to
prevent heart disease.This is the conclusion made by an international
team of scientists in two articles published in the medical journal The
Lancet.The drug tocilizumab has this effect and is used to suppress
inflammation in rheumatoid arthritis.
UMC Utrecht is taking part in this study.Cardiologist Dr. Folkert
Asselbergs, "The results support the idea that inflammation is one of
the causes of heart disease and that by suppressing it, it is possible
to reduce the risk of heart disease.This doesn't mean that from now on
we are going to treat all heart patients with this rheumatoid arthritis
drug,but it does mean that we need to set up a clinical trial to see if
tocilizumab really can reduce heart disease."
Researchers have reached conclusions by combining the data from 40
studies with the genetic material from over 133,000 people.Some people
have variations in the gene at the binding site of interluekine-6,
meaning that they have less inflammatory activity in their blood.These
people appear to be at lower risk of developing heart disease.The
effect of the gene on the inflammatory activity in the blood is also
visible in people with rheumatoid arthritis who are treated with
tocilizumab, which blocks the binding site of interleukin-6.This
suggests that blocking this site could possibly prevent heart
disease.In order to confirm this conclusion, the drug needs to be
studied in patients at high risk of developing heart disease.
Hardening of the arteries
Heart attacks and coronary artery disease are not only caused by
hardening of the arteries but also by inflammation.
However, up to now exactly how the inflammation contributes to heart
disease has not been clear.In the Netherlands about 700,000 people
suffered from coronary heart disease in 2007.
UMC Utrecht contributed genetic data from heart patients and from
healthy people.These data originate from two long-running patient
studies (EPIC-NL and SMART).Apart from Dr.Asselbergs, six other
researchers from UMC Utrecht worked on the Lancet publication
16 March 2012