Cardiovascular disease (CVD) remains the leading cause of death globally, with atherosclerosis, characterized by the buildup of arterial plaques, as a key contributor.
These plaques can rupture, leading to life-threatening events like heart attacks and strokes. Dyslipidemia, the presence of excessive “bad” lipids in the bloodstream, is a common precursor to CVD, affecting roughly half of adults.
Existing lipid-lowering drugs stabilize but don’t eliminate plaques. Two recent studies reveal a groundbreaking approach to intensive lipid reduction, potentially enabling plaque reversal.
Manganese’s Surprising Role
Manganese, typically seen as a trace element with supportive functions in enzymatic reactions, takes center stage in this innovative therapy.
Administering increasing doses of manganese, even through dietary means in mice, substantially reduces blood lipids and effectively clears existing atherosclerotic plaques.
The therapy exploits an unexpected role of manganese in regulating lipid delivery into the bloodstream.
Lipids, including cholesterol and triglycerides, travel within the blood via carriers known as lipoproteins, which are notably larger and more complex than other blood components.
Researchers discovered that lipoproteins rely on the condensation of a cellular machinery called the coat protein complex II (COPII) complex for their lipid-carrying function. Maintaining the right balance in COPII condensation is crucial for bulk lipid transport.
Manganese’s Role as a Regulator
Remarkably, manganese ions directly bind to the COPII complex, enhancing its condensation. This alteration disrupts the delicate balance of COPII regulation, resulting in a unique, bell-shaped effect on blood lipid levels.
This newfound mechanism enables the use of manganese-based therapy to clear arterial plaques in mice with CVD.
The Research Team’s Enthusiasm
Dr. Xiao Wang, one of the lead authors, expressed their excitement about manganese’s potential in preventing and treating CVD.
They are eager to explore its safety and effectiveness further while developing more efficient methods to utilize manganese’s novel signaling function.
These groundbreaking studies offer a promising avenue for combating cardiovascular disease by employing manganese to intensively lower blood lipids and clear atherosclerotic plaques.
While further research is needed to validate these findings and assess manganese’s efficacy and safety in humans, this discovery opens new doors in the fight against the world’s leading cause of death.
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The research findings can be found in Life Metabolism.
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