Common ‘harmless’ virus linked to heart artery damage

Common 'harmless' virus linked to heart artery damage

In a recent study, researchers find a surprisingly close link between a herpes virus and immune cells damaging heart artery tissue.

The study was done by Brighton and Sussex Medical School (BSMS).

Cytomegalovirus is a very common virus similar to the herpes virus that causes cold sores and is generally considered harmless.

The immune system usually controls the virus and most people don’t even realize they have it.

In the study, the team finds that a specific type of immune cells only arise when infection with Cytomegalovirus occurs.

The immune cells in had long been known to be involved in damaging the arteries around the heart, but it was previously assumed that this increase of cells was caused by aging.

The researchers also find that certain tissue types, which are determined genetically, make individuals more susceptible to having large numbers of these cells.

They suggest that while they had previously been aware of a link between these immune cells and cardiovascular damage, the current study is the first to show that sufficient numbers of immune cells only occur in the presence of this infection.

They also suggest that Cytomegalovirus infection should be considered in coronary heart disease, because treatment of the virus may help prevent coronary heart disease.

The work was conducted under the supervision of Prof Florian Kern, Chair of Immunology at BSMS.

Dr. Alejandra Pera is the lead author on the paper.

The study is published in Theranostics Journal.

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Source: Theranostics Journal.