DEC 11, 2015 11:26 AM PST

Newly Discovered Macrophages Repair Damaged Blood Vessels

WRITTEN BY: Kara Marker
Normally macrophages are called to a site of damage due to an infection or penetration of the skin, but scientists have discovered a unique type of these lymphocytes that hang out in the outer layer of arteries, waiting to repair any damage that might occur due to inflammation.

These macrophages, which can self-replicate, are thought to contain great potential for handling the progression of cardiovascular disease. More than 788,000 people in the United States died from cardiovascular complications in 2010 (National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute).

Monocytes are a type of white blood cell, and they differentiate into macrophages upon leaving the blood stream (Duquesne University). Monocytes are “born” in the bone marrow.
Macrophages send out chemicals to break down bacterial cell walls

In their study published this week in Nature Immunology, University of Toronto scientists found that while normal macrophages that arise from the bone marrow travel to the arterial wall to get rid of bacteria during an infection when an alarm is raised by the immune system, the so-called “self-renewing” macrophages actually leave during an infection and return when it is ready to be repaired.

It is only just now being discovered the difference between these two types of macrophages thanks to a “special tagging system” that allowed the team to observe where each group migrated during a bacterial infection.

"Previously, we couldn't identify one macrophage from another because we were limited by technology," said Clinton Robbins, PhD. "Now we can see exactly where they're coming from and where they're going.”

In cases of certain cardiovascular complications like atherosclerosis, where plaque build-up in the arteries can inhibit blood and oxygen flow to the heart, utilizing the action of self-renewing macrophages could be very beneficial. Apparently bone marrow macrophages can “cause atherosclerosis by entering the arterial wall and multiplying," and responding to these clots with an injection or other treatment of self-renewing macrophages could clear up blockages. This approach is thought to work better than inhibiting macrophage activation all together, leaving the patient vulnerable to infection.
 
Watch the following video to learn more about the confrontation between macrophages and bacteria. 
Source: EurekAlert
About the Author
  • I am a scientific journalist and enthusiast, especially in the realm of biomedicine. I am passionate about conveying the truth in scientific phenomena and subsequently improving health and public awareness. Sometimes scientific research needs a translator to effectively communicate the scientific jargon present in significant findings. I plan to be that translating communicator, and I hope to decrease the spread of misrepresented scientific phenomena! Check out my science blog: ScienceKara.com.
You May Also Like
JUN 08, 2019
Cardiology
JUN 08, 2019
You Might Not Know You Have Anemia
Of all the blood disorders, anemia is the most common. According to The Heart Lung and Blood Institute, it affects over 3 million Americans. Some people wi...
JUN 18, 2019
Cardiology
JUN 18, 2019
Defining Cardiogenic Shock, New Guidelines
Cardiogenic shock (CS) occurs when the heart suddenly is unable to pump sufficient blood to meet the body’s needs. Most often, this condition is caus...
JUN 24, 2019
Cardiology
JUN 24, 2019
Workplace Wellness Programs Fall Short
Today, workplace wellness programs are offered by most large employers. They may be presented as part of an employee benefits package. These wellness progr...
JUL 20, 2019
Cardiology
JUL 20, 2019
Hacking Fat Cells
The high-fat energy-dense diet we consume today is nothing like what humans ate for all of history before us. Luckily, we no longer have to hunt and kill o...
AUG 29, 2019
Cardiology
AUG 29, 2019
Childhood Cancer Survivors Prone to Cardiac Events
A new study published in the American Heart Association's journal Circulation explores the relationship between childhood cancer, metabolic conditions ...
OCT 03, 2019
Cardiology
OCT 03, 2019
What is Polycythemia Vera?
Polycythemia Vera (PV) is a slow-growing cancer of the blood. The cancer is characterized by an overproduction of blood cells within the bone marrow. Too m...
Loading Comments...