Researchers outline new stroke strategy

Scientists at the Louisiana State University (LSU) Health New Orleans Neuroscience Center of Excellence have found that combining a drug and selected DHA derivatives is a more effective strategy in protecting brain cells and increasing recovery after stroke vs. a single drug. Nicolas Bazan, Boyd Professor, professor of neurology and director of the Neuroscience Center of Excellence at LSU Health New Orleans School of Medicine, had found in earlier studies that in addition to its anti-inflammatory properties, DHA, an essential omega-3 fatty acid, stimulates the production of Neuroprotectin D1 (NPD1), a molecule that protects brain cells and promotes their survival. Because no single therapy has proven effective in treating the complexity of stroke, the team looked to block pro-inflammatory platelet-activating factor receptors and activate cell-survival pathways. They found that treatment with the synthetic molecule LAU-0901, which blocks pro-inflammatory platelet-activating factor, plus aspirin-triggered NPD1 (AT-NPD1) reduced the size of the damaged area in the brain, initiated repair mechanisms and improved behavioral recovery. Total lesion volumes were reduced with LAU-0901 plus NPD1 by 62% and LAU-0901 plus AT-NPD1 by 90%. Combinatory treatment with LAU-0901 plus AT-NPD1 improved the behavioral score up to 54% on day three. In addition, LAU-0901 and LAU-0901 plus DHA decreased the production of 12-hydroxyeicosatetraenoic acid, a pro-inflammatory mediator. "We discovered that these novel molecules promote neuronal cell survival with important anti-inflammatory activity," explained Ludmila Belayev, Health New Orleans professor of neuroscience, neurology and neurosurgery. "This combinatorial therapy may hold promise for future therapeutic development against ischemic stroke." The findings appeared Dec. 29, 2020, in Brain Circulation.

Group assesses role of NETs in coronary thrombosis in COVID-19 patients

A team of researchers looked at a small case series of COVID-19 patients who also had myocardial infarction and found that neutrophil extracellular traps (NET) appear to play a big role in the pathogenesis of ST-elevated myocardial infarction (STEMI) in the disease. With that determination, the team said targeting intravascular NETs might be a feasible way to prevent coronary thrombosis in patients with severe COVID-19 disease. The study included five patients with COVID-19 and a comparison group of 50 patients. NETs were detected in the samples of all five patients with COVID-19, and the median density of NETs was 61%. In the historical series of patients with STEMI, NETs were found in 34 of 50 thrombi (68%), and the median NET density was 19% (95% CI, 13%-22%; P < .001). The findings were published Dec. 29, 2020.

Link identified between metabolic syndrome and higher cardiovascular risk in patients with psoriasis

Researchers have long known that psoriasis increases the risk of cardiovascular disease. Now, a team has identified a key player in this process: the presence of metabolic syndrome (MetSyn), a condition that includes obesity, diabetes, high cholesterol and hypertension. “Metabolic syndrome, so common among our psoriasis patients, drives up coronary artery disease in this population by increasing the plaque buildup that clogs the heart’s arteries,” explained Nehal Mehta, preventive cardiologist and head of the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute’s Lab of Inflammation and Cardiometabolic Diseases. “Our study shows that, of the MetSyn components, hypertension and obesity contribute the most to coronary plaque buildup, and hence can be good targets for intervention.” Mehta and his team conducted an observational study of the NIH Psoriasis, Atherosclerosis, and Cardiometabolic Initiative cohort, which included 260 patients with psoriasis, 80 of whom met the criteria for MetSyn. All participants underwent computed tomography scanning to take pictures of their coronary arteries. The researchers found that systemic inflammation, insulin resistance and blood cholesterol were significantly higher in the participants who had both psoriasis and MetSyn. The findings appeared Dec. 28, 2020, in the Journal of the American Association of Dermatology.