Friend Or Foe? How The Body's Clot-busting System Speeds Up Atherosclerosis

Saturday, November 1, 2008 - 20:28 in Biology & Nature

Scientists have been puzzled by the fact that high levels of plasmin in blood and high levels of urokinase in artery walls are linked to high risk for rapid progression of atherosclerosis and heart attacks. Are these naturally occurring clot busters contributors to disease or evidence of the body's attempt to fight it? Molecular biology research shows interactions between urokinase and plasminogen accelerate atherosclerosis. Genetic loss of plasminogen production (the precursor to plasmin) protects mice against atherosclerosis, even when urokinase levels are elevated.

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