Magazine article Nutrition Health Review

Researchers Unravel Control of Growing Blood Vessels

Magazine article Nutrition Health Review

Researchers Unravel Control of Growing Blood Vessels

Article excerpt

Researchers at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center have discovered a basic mechanism by which smooth muscle cells that line blood vessels can grow--sometimes abnormally--suggesting methods of treatment for various coronary diseases.

Abnormal growth of cells inside blood vessels is involved in hypertension, coronary artery disease, tumors called leiosarcomas and other conditions.

"By understanding this detailed mechanism, it is now possible to begin to design therapies to interfere with it and thereby potentially prevent various vascular disorders in humans," said Dr. Eric Olson, Chairman of molecular biology and senior author of the paper.

There are three types of muscles in the body: skeletal, cardiac, and smooth. Smooth cells make up the stomach, intestine, blood vessels, and other organs. Unlike skeletal and cardiac muscles, smooth muscle cells can either rest in their final form, which allows vessels to contract, or they can divide into new cells.

Researchers have known about several signals that can stop smooth muscle cells from dividing and enable them to contract, but little is known about how this cascade of interactions works. The protein myocardin, discovered in Dr. …

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