February 16, 2009

Atherosclerosis drug doesn’t hurt liver

Researchers in Austria have developed and tested a synthetic atherosclerosis drug that can reduce the buildup of dangerous blood vessel plaques.

First author Adelheid Kratzer of the University of Graz said the encouraging results of this study in mice could lead to a new type of drug to treat or even prevent atherosclerosis without producing the side effect of fatty liver disease, which leads to its own set of problems such as diabetes.

The drug, DMHCA, targets proteins called the Liver X Receptors. These proteins control a body's cholesterol levels by limiting the absorption of dietary cholesterol and by increasing the conversion of cholesterol into bile acids. Unfortunately, most Liver X Receptors ligands also control fatty acid production, so therapeutic compounds that activate Liver X Receptors also raise the levels of other fats, particularly in the liver.

DHMCA, though, had negligible effects of fat production in laboratory tests, so the researchers tested it in mice genetically engineered to be atherosclerotic. They found that compared to another experimental Liver X Receptors drug (T0901317), DMHCA could significantly reduce the size of arterial lesions in the mice by 45 percent to 48 percent without increasing fat content in the liver or blood.

The findings are published in the Journal of Lipid Research.