Researchers Find New Strategy for Preventing Clogged Arteries:
Scientists have successfully minimized artery-narrowing plaque in mice and published their findings this week in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. The researchers at Albert Einstein College of Medicine did so by boosting chaperone-mediated autophagy (CMA), a cellular housekeeping process discovered in 1993 and named in 2000. CMA keeps cells functioning normally by selectively degrading the many proteins that cells contain. Dr. And Maria Cuervo has deciphered many of the molecular players involved in CMA and shown that, through its timely degradation of key proteins, it regulates numerous intracellular processes including glucose and lipid metabolism, circadian rhythms, and DNA repair. She also found that disrupted CMA allows damaged proteins to accumulate to toxic levels, contributing to aging and when the toxic buildup occurs in nerve cells to neurodegenerative diseases like Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s, and Huntington’s disease. The study, published in PNAS, is the first to show that turning up CMA could be an effective way to prevent atherosclerosis from becoming severe or progressing. The CMA-boosted mice used in the experiments had greatly improved blood lipid profiles, with markedly reduced levels of cholesterol compared with the control mice.