Low levels of naturally occurring antibodies may represent an increased risk of developing cardiovascular disease, particularly stroke in men, according to a study currently published online in Atherosclerosis.
The investigators said that this finding has led to develop attempts of an immunization against cardiovascular disease (CVD).
Johan Frostegård, MD, and a research team from Karolinska Institute in Stockholm, Sweden, in cooperation with Lund University in Scania, Sweden, have now shown that a particular type of naturally occurring antibodies, anti-PC, which are targeted against the lipid portion of the LDL molecule, play an important role in the development of CVD.
The authors wrote that the study is based on data from 349 people who at some time over a 12-year period have suffered a heart attack or stroke and 693 individuals without symptoms of CVD.
The research findings show that individuals who have low levels of anti-PC are at increased risk of CVD, according to the researchers. The risk is particularly high in men who develop stroke, with an almost fourfold increase.
Frostegård and colleagues found that the newly discovered risk factor, low levels of anti-PC, is independent of previously known risk factors such as high blood pressure, high blood lipids, diabetes and smoking.
"Our findings suggest that anti-PC can be used as a complement to the traditional risk factors to improve diagnosis and treatment. In addition we are currently developing anti-PC as a vaccine for atherosclerosis and CVD," Frostegård said.