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Inhibiting fatty acid synthase can reduce atherosclerosis: Study

March 21, 2017

These mouse experiments suggest targeting fatty acid synthase in macrophages may provide a potential treatment strategy for humans. The researchers identified factors in the fatty acid pathway that seem to be capable of preventing plaques from blocking arteries in mice. He says those substances - LXR-alpha and ABCA1 - eventually may become drug targets.

"It may be possible, for example, to take macrophages out of humans, inhibit fatty acid synthase in those cells, and then infuse the macrophages back into the same person," he says. "From what we've observed in mice, we would hypothesize that approach might prevent or interfere with plaque buildup in people."

Inhibiting fatty acid synthase in macrophages may not keep blood vessels clean forever, according to Semenkovich, but he says it could lower the risk of heart attacks and strokes while people are making lifestyle changes in order to lose weight, gain control of blood sugar levels or lower triglycerides and cholesterol.

"This discovery allows us to separate atherosclerosis from associated conditions such as diabetes and high cholesterol," he says. "In fact, in the mice without fatty acid synthase in their macrophage cells, there were no effects on diabetes. Cholesterol in the blood remained the same. But there were fewer blockages in arteries. If a similar approach worked for humans, it could help prevent heart attacks and strokes and give people a chance to get healthier by losing weight and lowering cholesterol."

Source: Washington University School of Medicine