The Risk Of Inflammation Hormones (Interleukin-6 Or IL-6) From The Glucose Gobbling Immune Cells
We think that the clogged arteries (a risk factor for atherosclerosis and coronary artery disease - CAD or ischemic heart disease - IHD) are due to the high fat and the oil foods that we eat (such as french fries, dairy products, meat and hamburgers). But a study at the Stanford University School of Medicine, Stanford, California shows that the reason for the clogged arteries is due to the disease associated with our immune system.
The researchers say that the consumption of more sugar by the defective immune cells is the root cause of coronary artery disease (CAD). They say that the defective immune cells, hiding in the plaque of the arteries are consuming more sugar (or glucose) present in the blood. They produce a hormone called interleukin-6 (or IL-6), which is associated with inflammation. The researchers think that the response of these defective immune cells is the reason for the coronary artery disease (CAD). The interleukin-6 hormone was also associated with the increase in the stress levels in the body.
Inflammation is a crucial part of our immune system and it is important for the body to recover from cuts, diseases or surgeries. But the ability of the body to turn off the inflammation is also important.
An earlier study has found that chronic inflammation will play a role in the development of coronary artery disease (CAD) and rheumatoid arthritis. But that study could not explain the mechanism behind the development of the diseases and the chronic inflammation associated with those diseases.
The researchers have examined the blood samples of 105 healthy patients and 140 patients with coronary artery disease, who have suffered at least one heart attack. They have found that the immune cells of the patients with coronary heart disease are consuming more sugar compared with the immune cells of healthy patients. The defective immune cells are causing inflammation while burning the excess sugar consumed by them. They produce higher levels of reactive chemicals (free radicals) and the reactive chemicals can damage the other parts of the cell (such as proteins and DNA of a cell) leading to the unhealthy cells.
The study has found that free radicals can cause malfunctioning of a protein. The protein normally helps in deriving energy from the blood. Instead, these cells produce more inflammatory hormones (interleukin-6 or IL-6).
Currently, there is no treatment to target these defective immune cells that consume more sugar and causes the production of more inflammatory hormones (interleukin-6 or IL-6).
A regular exercise can regulate the blood sugar (glucose) level in the blood and can keep the arteries clear and healthy. The diet modifications to lower the blood sugar and fat level may not help in cleaning the arteries (removing the plaque in the arteries) and in improving the heart health of those people who are at risk of the coronary heart disease (CAD).
Overindulgence of immune cells can be prevented with the physical exercise, which can cause the muscles to absorb excess sugar present in the blood resulting in no extra sugar (glucose) in the bloodstream.
The lead author of the study was Cornelia M Weyand, a rheumatologist and immunologist, the Stanford University School of Medicine. The study was published online on February 29, 2016, in the Journal of Experimental Medicine. Title of the article was "The glycolytic enzyme PKM2 bridges metabolic and inflammatory dysfunction in coronary artery disease".
Immune cells: A type of white blood cells that fight infections in our body.
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Published by Jammi Vasista, Chennai, India.