Platelets and heart disease

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Translational Research Project Grant

Prof Khalid Naseem, University of Leeds

Amount: £125,105      Duration: 24 months

Blood platelets and inflammation in heart disease

Summary: The disease processes leading to a heart attack involve inflammation.  This project will investigate the role of blood platelets in controlling inflammation in the blood vessels of patients with and without heart disease.

People with angina have a narrowing or blockage in the coronary arteries of their heart.  There is a risk that a blood clot may form inside the blood vessel, blocking the blood flow and causing a heart attack.  The disease processes leading to a heart attack involve inflammation. 

Small blood cells called platelets play a major part in blood clotting and recently it has been found that platelets can cause inflammation in blood vessels by releasing particular chemicals.  Professor Naseem’s team has previously shown that patients with angina and heart attack have increased levels of inflammation chemicals in their platelets.  There is also evidence that their genetic codes have been changed to produce more of these chemicals. 

The aim of this project is to find out if the platelets of patients with heart disease have and produce more inflammation causing chemicals compared with other patients.  The team will also see if the platelets of patients with heart disease have higher levels of genetic codes for these inflammatory chemicals. 

The team will compare blood samples from three groups; patients admitted with a heart attack, patients with stable angina and people who do not have any heart disease.  They will measure levels of these inflammatory chemicals, their genetic codes and the proteins that are involved in the manufacture of the chemicals.  They will also measure these levels before and after mixing the platelets with substances that are known to cause inflammation, to see how the platelets react.

The findings will help us to understand the role of platelets in causing inflammation in the blood vessels of patients with heart disease and how they are already prepared for an inflammatory reaction.  This project will support future research into new medicines for patients with heart disease.