A South Korean research team has opened a new chapter in the prevention of and treatment for cardiovascular disease by discovering a chemical that induces the growth of new blood vessels.
On Nov. 30, a research team led by Ajou University College of Pharmacy professor Park Sang-kyu and Pusan National University School of Medicine professor Kwon Sang-mo discovered that a kind of bile acid, TUDCA, induces Endothelial Progenitor Cells (EPC) to move from the bone marrow to create new blood vessels. Through experimentation, they determined that TUDCA is a cell signaling messenger that increases the rate of new blood vessel formation in its local area.
TUDCA stands for tauroursodeoxycholic acid, whch is a compound that is made up of Ursodeoxycholic acid (UDCA), one of the secondary bile acids, combined with taurine. Very little TUDCA exists in the body naturally.
The number of patients in Asia with ischaemic blood vessel diseases, or a shortage of oxygen in body tissues, is rising. This type of disease is becoming chronic due to the westernization of eating and living and the beginning of an aging society. However, until now there has not been a fundamental treatment.
The research team recognized the revascularization of ischaemic tissues as the fundamental treatment for this problem. So they separated and cultivated EPCs from peripheral and cord blood to study them.
Through their studies they finally identified TUDCA as a compound that effectively induces the movement of EPCs to a specific area by using an endogenous compound from preceding research. TUDCA is produced and stored in the gall bladder in response to the amount of cholesterol in the bloodstream.
The research team discovered that more blood vessels are made when EPC circulates in peripheral and cord blood when called by the compound TUDCA.
Furthermore, they found that TUDCA controls the cells by activating a signaling messenger protein after it enters a cell membrane.
Using these findings, the team can artifically add more TUDCA to ischaemic regions like the heart muscle to attract stem cells from the bone marrow and create new blood vessels without side effects.
Professor Park said, "This research will be used in the self-treatment of stem cells effectively without side effects through using bile acid in human body, different from existing treatments."
This research was supported by the Bio and Medical Technology Development Project from Ministry of Science, ICT and Future Planning. It was first published in the online academic journal Stem Cells on Nov 19.