Lerner is Lita Annenberg Hazen Professor of Immunochemistry and holds the Cecil H. and Ida M. Green Chair in Chemistry at TSRI. He is also one of several scientists on the team who are members of The Skaggs Institute for Chemical Biology at TSRI.
Lerner, Wentworth, and their colleagues have been looking at the production of ozone molecules within the human body for the last year and a half, ever since they made the completely unexpected discovery that human antibodies generate a product with the chemical signature of ozone. Ozone is a highly reactive molecule that has never before been considered part of biology.
So if antibodies produce ozone in the human body, the TSRI scientists asked, what is the ozone doing there? Their report, out in this week's issue of the journal Science, details what they found.
In their report, Lerner, Wentworth, and their colleagues describe how ozone can trigger pathological changes in other molecules in the body, like cholesterol, which ozone breaks down to produce toxic compounds. The scientists describe two such compounds, which they call the "atheronals." These atheronals were found in atherosclerotic plaques that were surgically removed from patients with atherosclerosis.
The scientists suggest these newly identified products are critical to the pathogenesis of atherosclerosis because they are toxic to white blood cells, smooth muscle cells, and cells from the arterial walls--all the major types of cells in and around atherosclerotic plaques. Furthermore, they suggest that atheronals and similar products of ozonolysis may contribute to a number of other diseases, such as lupus, multiple sclerosis, and rheumatoid arthrit
Contact: Jason Bardi
Scripps Research Institute