Oxidants play major role in healing of damaged blood vessels

Researchers and clinicians have long labeled oxidants as villains in the fight against heart disease. But clinical trials using anti-oxidants against heart disease have been disappointing.

New research here is showing these same oxidants are critical for the healing of damage to the cardiovascular system and may tell us why anti-oxidants haven't worked.

Without the right mix of oxidants - also called "free radicals" -- at the sites of vascular injury, blood vessel walls won't heal. This finding offers one explanation for why antioxidant therapies haven't been effective in treating heart disease, as had once been hoped.

In a paper published in a recent issue of the journal Circulation Research, scientists at Ohio State University reported that endothelial cells adjacent to wounds on the inner surface of the vessel wall produced more oxidants than did identical cells farther away from the wound.

"We were looking at the possibility that when you stress endothelial cells, oxidants would be produced by these cells, damaging them," explained Pascal Goldschmidt, director of Ohio State University's Heart and Lung Institute. "Instead, we found that the oxidants are an important part of the repair process."

The report, led by Leni Moldovan, a postdoctoral fellow in Goldschmidt's laboratory, focussed on the endothelium, the layer of smooth cells that lines the walls of every blood vessel in the

Contact: Pascal Goldschmidt
Ohio State University

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