The team has identified one gene, called Alox5, that codes for an enzyme that generates lipoxins from omega-6 polyunsaturated fatty acids to help the body get rid of bad cholesterol.

These insights may change the way physicians treat patients at increased risk for heart disease, pointed out the study.

"Our findings could help pave the way for novel therapeutic approaches to prevent cardiovascular disease and its associated clinical sequelae, including heart attacks and stroke," said Ivan Tancevski from Innsbruck Medical University, Austria.

In experiments conducted on mice, aspirin stimulated production of lipoxins that then promoted the transport of excess cholesterol to the liver, where it is excreted through bile.

Treating mice that had atherosclerotic plaques in their blood vessels with aspirin even caused the plaques to regress.

"Aspirin is known to prevent cardiovascular disease due to its antithrombotic and anti-inflammatory effects. We now identified a third mechanism by which aspirin may confer protection," stressed Tancevski.

The team also generated and tested chemically modified lipoxins mimetics that were even more effective at lowering LDL cholesterol, suggesting that new lipoxin-based specific drugs could provide greater benefits for patients.

The study appeared in the journal Cell Metabolism.


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