Given a recent research conducted by the University of Virginia, traditional atherosclerosis treatments get called in question in awe of new medical finding. Scientists have discovered new characteristics of the smooth muscle cells, which might worsen the patients’ health condition instead of improving it.
Up until recently, it was believed that smooth muscle cells residing in the walls of blood vessels act as immune system activators; thus, preventing atherosclerosis. However, the recent medical experiment that researchers at the University of Virginia have conducted proves the opposite.
According to them, smooth muscle cells may protect the body against possible plaques or, on the contrary, worsen the general health condition of a person. It all resides in the correct identification of the type of vascular cells and apparently, doctors have failed to do this in the past decades.
The new findings were made when doctors used genetic tags to better distinguish between different types of smooth muscle cells. They have noticed that the structure of some of these cells is similar to the one that blood vessels develop when the patient is sick. If not correctly identified smooth muscle cells can build up plaque instead of stimulating the activity of blood vessels, as it was initially believed.
Tagging smooth muscle cells has turned out to be incredibly effective because the method enabled scientists to easily label cells while operating tests on lab mice. They have stated that the said cells are very difficult to identify because they tend to get disguised by potential legions in the blood vessels.
The Klf4 gene that they have identified during the research could be responsible for the negative influence that smooth muscle cells enact on plaques. Vascular cells were no longer active when the Klf4 gene was turned off; therefore experts have drawn the conclusion that it could play a significant role in determining the type of the cell.
Doctors fear that the traditional methods might have been noxious to atherosclerosis patients because the immunostaining detection system was not accurate enough. Their fears are justified as calculations indicate that the error percentage amounted to 82.
Scientists are now considering the possibility of replacing all traditional diagnosis methods for atherosclerosis on accounts of inaccuracy.
The findings of the study were published in the journal Nature Medicine.
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