Newly identified protein markers have potential to contribute to better understanding of heart disease


Researchers at the Intermountain Medical Center Heart Institute in Murray, Utah, have discovered that elevated levels of two recently identified proteins in the body are inflammatory markers and indicators of the presence of cardiovascular disease.


These newly identified markers of inflammation, GlycA and GlycB, have the potential to contribute to better understanding of the inflammatory origins of heart disease and may be used in the future to identify a heart patient’s future risk of suffering a heart attack, stroke, or even death.


Inflammation occurs in the body in response to tissue damage, irritation, or infection. Inflammation is often associated with injury (i.e., sprained ankle), infection (i.e., strep throat), and auto-immune diseases (i.e., rheumatoid arthritis). However, it has been shown that inflammation is also a risk factor for heart disease.


“There are at least two benefits evident from this study,” said J. Brent Muhlestein, MD, lead researcher and co-director of cardiovascular research at the Intermountain Medical Center Heart Institute. “First, a new marker of heart attack or stroke may help us to more effectively identify which patients are at risk. Second, now that we know GlycA and GlycB are important predictors of heart disease, we’ll seek to understand more about the physiology of these proteins – what causes them to increase and how we can we treat elevated levels.”


Levels of GlycA and GlycB were determined from a blood test called nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) spectroscopy, which was developed to determine the number of lipid particles contained in different cholesterol parameters.


Testing for GlycA and GlycB by NMR spectroscopy uses signals that arise from the binding of glucose molecules to a variety of circulating inflammatory proteins, especially fibrinogen, a1-antichymotrypsin, haptoglobin-1, a1-antitrypsin, complement C3 and a1-acid glycoprotein.

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