According to a research presented at the American Heart Association ( AHA ) annual meeting in Dallas, heart disease could be prevented in the future with a vaccine. Although other studies have to be made in this field, researchers have been able to demonstrate in animals that the level of cholesterol and blood pressure can be reduced by a vaccine.
Until now, two studies have shown that these vaccines interrupt certain processes in the body that lead to high blood pressure and high cholesterol. In the first study it was demonstrated that after the administration of a vaccine that protects the cell ‘s ability to remove LDL cholesterol from the bloodstream, the mice had lower cholesterol level for a year. Dr. James Howard, AHA spokesperson, endocrinologist and internist at MedStar Washington Hospital Center in Washington, DC, said that this is one of the most exciting things at this moment regarding the control of cholesterol levels.
This vaccine targets PCSK9, an enzyme involved in cholesterol metabolism, which decreases the ability of the cell to take up cholesterol from the bloodstream and turn it into in hormones or other products. It appears that the vaccine reduces the levels of PCSK9 in the body; in other words, it decreases the level of cholesterol in the blood by increasing the cell capacity to use cholesterol. Howard pointed out that this vaccine has an incredible power to reduce LDL levels in the body and that it can be taken with statins. However, scientists have pointed out that studies on animals do not have the same results when conducted in humans.
The other study conducted on mice showed that high blood pressure can be lowered with a vaccine for a period of 6 months. This vaccine, developed by Japanese researchers, targets angiotensin II, a substance that causes hypertension by causing constriction of blood vessels. There are antihypertensive drugs that block angiotensin II ( ACE inhibitors ), but these must be taken daily for an effective control of hypertension. Barbara Howard, a senior scientist at MedStar Health Research Institute and a professor at Georgetown University Hospital in Washington, DC, said that it is a hormone that increases blood pressure and that there are many drugs that antagonize it and control hypertension. She pointed out that if the production of this hormone is suppressed, you can get a sustained reduction that will last longer. However, there are several concerns about these drugs or vaccines that target angiotensin II because it is part of a network of hormones that regulate sodium balance in the body.
In the study led by Japanese researchers, it was demonstrated that the vaccine can reduce blood pressure for months; also, it can reduce the damage to the heart, kidney, liver or blood vessels. However, Howard noted that other studies are needed until the vaccine will be available to humans. Until this is achieved, cardiologists have several recommendations in order to prevent cardiovascular diseases: a healthy diet, no smoking and regular physical activity.