Oklahoma Medical Research Foundation scientist receives $1.6 million to study coronary heart disease

Grant is to further study the role of epsins in the development and progression of coronary heart disease.
by OMRF Published: March 11, 2014
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The National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute has awarded Oklahoma Medical Research Foundation scientist Hong Chen, Ph.D., a four-year, $1.6 million grant to further study the role of epsins in the development and progression of atherosclerosis.

Epsins are proteins involved in the creation of new blood vessels and the process that leads to deadly plaque accumulating in arteries, or atherosclerosis. Atherosclerosis of the coronary arteries, or coronary heart disease, is the top killer of both men and women in the United States.

“We found these proteins, Epn1 and Epn2, recruit macrophages to arterial damage,” said Chen, an associate member in OMRF’s Cardiovascular Biology Research Program. “Macrophages are immune cells, and when they’re summoned, they kind of get stuck and begin eating up lipids, which are fats in the bloodstream.”

Once they’ve absorbed as much fat as they can, the macrophages die. But instead of being swept out of the system, they stick to the sides of arteries and form plaque. When that plaque builds up, it causes atherosclerosis, hardening and narrowing the arteries.

Plaque also can rupture and break apart, potentially causing an aneurysm, stroke or heart attack, she said.


by OMRF
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Founded in 1946, the Oklahoma Medical Research Foundation is one of the nation’s oldest and most respected nonprofit biomedical research institutes. Located in Oklahoma City, OMRF fosters a worldwide reputation for excellence by following an...
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