New research provides clues about the causes of lupus symptoms and suggests specific new targeted treatment strategies, according to Nilamadham Mishra, MD, from Wake Forest University Baptist Medical Center, in presentations at the American College of Rheumatology in Boston.
The studies looked at premature atherosclerosis in lupus patients as well as accelerated cell death that seems to be behind many of the disease’s symptoms. In one study, Mishra and colleagues looked at the potential mechanisms of premature atherosclerosis, which is one of the leading causes of death and disability in lupus patients. Even when they take drugs to lower their cholesterol, lupus patients still develop fatty buildups in their vessels, which can lead to heart attack and stroke.
Previous research by Mishra found that a new class of drugs being developed (histone deacetylase inhibitors) were effective at preventing atherosclerosis in mice prone to develop the disease. In the current study, Mishra and colleagues explored whether it is a specific histone deacetylase, number 9 (HDAC9), that causes the problem.
In the current study, the researchers found that in atherosclerosis-prone mice, there is more HDAC9 than usual in the macrophages, which are cells within the artery walls that collect cholesterol and can lead to atherosclerosis. They found that these increased levels of HDAC9 increase inflammation in the arteries as well as the buildup of fatty tissue that may break off and cause a heart attack or stroke.
In mice macrophages that were genetically engineered to have no HDAC9, the researchers found the production of chemicals that promote inflammation were reduced and levels of cholesterol deposits were reduced compared to mice that produced normal levels of HDAC9.
“With the drug that inhibits HDAC9, we were able to decrease inflammation and remove cholesterol at the same time,” said Mishra. “This study suggests that specifically targeting HDAC9 without inhibiting other histone deacetylases will be helpful for atherosclerosis.”
Release date: November 12, 2007
Source: Wake Forest University Baptist Medical Center
Filed Under: Drug Discovery