Public Release: 

Novel basic science tip sheet

American Heart Association

Abstract 15898 (Hall A2, Core 2)

Diet high in flavonoids may help counteract pollution-related heart risk

A diet high in plant flavonoids may help people vulnerable to heart risk when they inhale fine particles in smoke and hazy polluted air, according to research presented at the American Heart Association's Scientific Sessions 2014.

Flavonoids are anti-inflammatory nutrients found in vegetables, fruits, chocolate and wine.

During an 11-year follow-up of 573 elderly men, heart rate variability -- a predictor of heart attacks and heart-related death -- worsened when average fine particle levels rose for 48 hours. The association was exacerbated in men with a stronger suppressive regulation of a protein, called toll-like receptor 2, which detects foreign substances and pass on signals to the immune system.

However, the association between heart rate variability and pollution levels and the immune response were far weaker in men who consumed high levels of flavonoids in their diets.

Flavonoids may help protect against pollution-related heart risk by helping regulate the body's immune system response, researchers said.

Jia Zhong, M.S., student at the Harvard School of Public Health, Boston, Massachusetts

Actual presentation is 9:30 a.m. CT/10:30 a.m. ET, Monday, Nov. 17, 2014.

Abstract 18960 (Hall A2, Core 2)

Low-cost vaccine lowers bad cholesterol in animal studies

A low-cost vaccine safely lowered levels of bad cholesterol in animal studies -- raising the possibility for an easier and more accessible way to control cholesterol in humans, according to research presented at the American Heart Association's Scientific Sessions 2014.

The vaccine targets PCSK9, an enzyme that degrades a receptor carrying low density lipoprotein (LDL, bad cholesterol) cholesterol. As receptor levels decrease, more LDL cholesterol circulates in the bloodstream. So a vaccine that inhibits the action of PCSK9 would lower levels of LDL cholesterol in the blood and its related heart disease risk.

Researchers used a virus-like-particle vaccine (VLP), a non-infectious, safe method to create a strong immune response -- in this case against the part of PCSK9 that attaches to the LDL cholesterol receptor. Researchers found:

  • In 20 mice, the vaccine reduced total cholesterol by more than 30 percent.

  • In three rhesus monkeys, vaccination lowered total cholesterol 14.2 percent and LDL cholesterol 28.4 percent by six weeks compared to controls vaccinated with VLPs not conjugated to a peptide.

  • No adverse effects occurred in either species.

Marcelo Amar, M.D., study lead author, staff clinician in the Lipoprotein Metabolism Section of the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute, Bethesda, Maryland;

Alan T. Remaley, M.D., Ph.D., study senior investigator, Lipoprotein Metabolism Section, National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute, Bethesda, Maryland

Actual presentation is 9:30 a.m. CT/10:30 a.m. ET, Monday, November 17, 2014.

For more on PCSK9 research see:

  • ODYSSEY ALTERNATIVE, LBCT.02, Abstract 20758, Monday, November 17, 2014, 11:29 a.m. - 11:39 a.m.

  • Clinical Science: Special Reports Session 5: Results of ODYSSEY; Wednesday, November 19, 2014, 7:15 a.m. - 8:20 a.m.

    Abstract 11789 (Room S102d, Core 3)

    Stem cells may benefit infants after surgery for rare heart defect

    It appears feasible and safe to give babies an infusion of their stem cells after surgery to correct an incompletely formed heart, according to a study presented at the American Heart Association's Scientific Sessions 2014.

    The study involved 14 children who had undergone two or three palliative surgeries for hypoplastic left heart syndrome to redirect blood flow and allow the right side of the heart to take over the pumping function of the left side.

    One month after the procedures, seven of the participants received an infusion of their heart stem cells obtained from cardiac tissue during the operation and grown to cluster in spherical structures (cardiosphere-derived cells).

    Children who received the infusions suffered no complications, deaths, abnormal heart rhythms or tumors during the 18-month follow-up. They also had greater improvement in the heart's pumping power, better weight gain and less heart failure than children treated with standard surgery alone.

    A phase-2 clinical trial to test the efficacy of the treatment is underway.

    Shuta Ishigami, M.D., Department of Cardiovascular Surgery, Okayama University Hospital; Okayama, Japan

    Actual presentation is 10 a.m. CT/11 a.m. ET, Monday, Nov. 17, 2014.


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