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Atherosclerosis: how the body controls the activity of B cells

White Blood Cell, National Cancer Institute

Cardiovascular diseases related to atherosclerosis are the leading cause of death worldwide. In patients, the body deposits cholesterol esters and other fats in the inner wall of arteries. This results in the build-up of plaques, which can constrict the flow of blood so strongly that the oxygen supply to organs is impaired. Researchers have known for some time that chronic inflammatory processes occur in atherosclerosis.

A type of white blood cell known as the B cell appears to play an important role as part of the adaptive immune response. B cells have both protecting and damaging effects through the medium of antibodies. In other words, they can either promote or inhibit atherosclerosis. But how exactly does the body regulate which of these processes takes effect? IPEK scientistst from the Steffens Lab  have now identified a protein that plays a crucial role in controlling the adaptive immune response in atherosclerosis. The scientists think this protein could be suitable as a target for innovative therapies. Important parts of the study were funded by the German Research Foundation’s Collaborative Research Center 1123 (speaker: Prof. Christian Weber), which just this May was extended for a further four years.


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Nature Cardiovascular Research 2022