Scientists report in the October issue of the Journal of Lipid Research new details about how a drug used against heart disease helps to unclog blood vessels from an excess of cholesterol and fats. The results help explain how the drug works and may provide ways to improve similar drugs in the future.

A type of white blood cell called macrophage is responsible for the accumulation of fat in blood vessels, leading to inflammation and plaque formation on the inner linings of the vessel. Macrophages produce enzymes called lipases that have been shown to promote fat accumulation in blood vessels. Drugs called statins reduce the accumulation of fat in macrophages but their effects on lipases have not been explored yet.

John S. Hill and colleagues studied the effect of a statin drug called atorvastatin on two lipases, called lipoprotein lipase and endothelial lipase, which break down different types of fats. The researchers showed that the statin significantly reduced the levels of both lipases in macrophages and described in detail the proteins that are affected within the macrophages. These results may help to understand how other statin drugs work and could help design better drugs against heart disease in the future, the scientists conclude.

The American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology is a nonprofit scientific and educational organization with over 11,900 members in the United States and internationally. Most members teach and conduct research at colleges and universities. Others conduct research in various government laboratories, nonprofit research institutions and industry. The Society's student members attend undergraduate or graduate institutions.

Founded in 1906, the Society is based in Bethesda, Maryland, on the campus of the Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology. The Society's purpose is to advance the science of biochemistry and molecular biology through publication of the Journal of Biological Chemistry, the Journal of Lipid Research, and Molecular and Cellular Proteomics, organization of scientific meetings, advocacy for funding of basic research and education, support of science education at all levels, and promoting the diversity of individuals entering the scientific work force.

For more information about ASBMB, see the Society's Web site at asbmb.

American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology (ASBMB)
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Bethesda, MD 20814-3996
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