Patients with lupus, an inflammatory disease in which the body's immune system attacks its own tissues, are on average seven to nine times more likely to develop heart disease than the general population. Younger women with lupus are 50 times as likely to develop the disease as young women without the disease.
The endothelium -- the single layer of cells lining blood vessel walls -- is thought to protect against heart disease. It does so in part by producing nitric oxide.
A research team at the Medical University of South Carolina has shown that the enzyme responsible for nitric oxide production stops working properly when exposed to serum from lupus patients. They also showed that its ability to produce nitric oxide can be restored by administration of L-sepiapterin. Their findings are published in an article published ahead of print by Lupus Science & Medicine.
The article provides proof of concept that the enzyme could be a therapeutic target for heart disease in lupus. Restoring the enzyme's function could also help protect lupus patients against kidney disease. The same inflammatory forces are at work there but the damage occurs much more quickly.
The findings also suggest that restoring the protective function of endothelial cells could be a strategy for treating heart disease more broadly.
For the full article please click here.