In the search for early biomarkers for atherosclerosis, researchers at the Montreal Heart Institute have found that a particular protein, angiopoietin-like 2 (angptl2), promotes atherogenesis in mice.

They also found that blood levels of angptl2 to be six times higher in patients with coronary heart disease than healthy people of the same age.

“Prevention is the ideal solution to delay the onset of atherosclerosis, and an early blood marker such as angptl2—if future clinical studies confirm this finding—will serve as an important tool to identify at-risk subjects who do not present with any symptoms of atherosclerotic disease,” Montreal Heart Institute’s Éric Thorin, Ph.D., said in a statement.

Thorin and his colleagues also found that angptl2, which is undetectable in young mice, increases with age in healthy animals, and prematurely so in those with high cholesterol and pre-atherosclerotic lesions.

“Although much work remains to be done to broaden our knowledge of this protein’s mechanisms of action, angiopoietin-like protein 2 may represent an early biomarker not only to prevent vascular damage but also to predict atherosclerotic disease,” Dr. Thorin added.

The study “Angiopoietin-like 2 promotes atherogenesis in mice” appeared online in the Journal of the American Heart Association on May 10.

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