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Study: The body's own gut hormones protect against hardening of the arteries


Anti-inflammatory and vascular protective effects of the GIP intestinal hormone

According to the German Heart Foundation, coronary heart disease (CHD) was the most common of all heart diseases in Germany in 2017 with 660,000 inpatient treatments. The basis for this disease is arteriosclerosis, the so-called arteriosclerosis, in which the arteries are increasingly narrowed due to deposits. In a current study, researchers took a closer look at an intestinal hormone and decoded new protective properties that apparently counteract deposits in vessels.

A research team led by Dr. med. Florian Kahles from the University Hospital Aachen examined the hormone GIP (glucose-dependent insulinotropic peptide) formed in the intestine and discovered a hitherto unknown anti-inflammatory and vascular protective effect that emanates from the hormone. The scientists report that this could represent a new treatment approach for the treatment of hardening of the arteries. The study results were recently published in the journal "Molecular Metabolism".

The gut hormone GIP

The gut hormone GIP arises after eating in the gut. It was already known to regulate blood sugar levels by causing insulin to be released from the pancreas when necessary. This process is known as the "incretin effect". The latest research by the Aachen scientists showed that GIP can do even more. The researchers discovered protective properties that counteract the development of arteriosclerosis.

About arteriosclerosis

With arteriosclerosis, deposits and inflammatory cells have formed on the inner skin of the vessels. These deposits are called medically arteriosclerotic plaques. These plaques narrow the diameter of the vessel and thus hinder blood flow. This often results in a narrowing that goes unnoticed for years. Risk factors that contribute to the development include:

  • High blood pressure,
  • To smoke cigarettes,
  • Hyperlipoproteinemia (fat metabolism disorder),
  • Gout,
  • Obesity (obesity),
  • Polycythemia (thick blood),
  • Lack of exercise,
  • Stress.

Possible sequelae of arterial calcification

Atherosclerosis provides the basis for numerous heart diseases, such as the above-mentioned coronary heart disease. Calcification of the arteries can have life-threatening consequences. If the arteriosclerotic plaques burst, a clot can form that, in the worst case, closes the entire artery and thus triggers a heart attack, since the heart muscle is no longer supplied with blood.

How can the GIP hormone help?

In animal experiments, the hormone showed an inhibitory effect on the deposition of inflammatory cells, which contribute to the formation of arterial calcification. As a result, the release of inflammatory messenger substances could be reduced. It also showed improved plaque stability. The plaques burst less frequently, which could prevent clot formation.

GIP as the body's active ingredient

The researchers report that analyzes of over 700 patients from the Cardiovascular Biobank at the University Hospital Aachen showed that the GIP concentration in the blood of atherosclerosis sufferers is increased. This suggests that the body uses GIP as an endogenous anti-inflammatory and vascular protective agent. In further clinical studies, it is now to be clarified whether GIP could prevent heart attacks.

Award-winning student research project

Dr. Florian Kahles from the University Hospital Aachen and his team received the “Uta and Jürgen Breunig Research Award” from the German Heart Foundation for the results of their study, which is endowed with 6,000 euros. (vb)

Author and source information


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