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Blood test for amyloid-β could help reduce heart disease deaths

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Scientists from Newcastle University (UK) have hypothesized that a simple blood test could be used to reduce future heart disease deaths. Research published in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology has reported that elevated levels of amyloid-β in the blood could be a key indicator of cardiovascular disease.

The team hope that in the future these findings can be translated into a simple blood test, using blood levels of amyloid-β as a clinical biomarker to identify those individuals who are most at risk of cardiovascular disease. Such a blood test could facilitate the timely introduction of therapeutic interventions and help to reduce heart disease deaths.

Amyloid-β, an aging-induced peptide, is widely known as the hallmark of the amyloid hypothesis of Alzheimer’s disease. Findings from this research, led by Konstantinos Stellos (Newcastle University Biosciences Institute and New Castle Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, UK), indicate that amyloid-β could play a critical role in thickening of the arteries, vascular stiffening, heart failure and heart disease progression.

Stellos’ research group carried out a series of collaborative international studies, analyzing blood samples from multiple cohorts featuring 6,600 participants in nine countries. The scientists found that participants could be divided into high- and low-risk categories of cardiovascular disease based on their blood levels of amyloid-β.

Stellos explained: “Our work has created and put all the pieces of the puzzle together. For the first time, we have provided evidence of the involvement of amyloid-β in early and later stages of cardiovascular disease. What is really exciting is that we were able to reproduce these unexpected, clinically meaningful findings in patients from around the world. In all cases, we observed that amyloid-β is a biomarker of cardiovascular ageing and of cardiovascular disease prognosis.”

The research group hope that their findings can be translated into a simple blood test which, in combination with current methods of patient screening, will help to reduce heart disease deaths.

Future research at Newcastle University will investigate the use of such a predictive blood test on patient outcomes in the clinic. The group also hope to establish whether blood levels of amyloid-β constitute a therapeutic target.

Stellos added: “Measuring amyloid-β reclassified a large proportion of patients who had a heart attack in the correct risk categories over an established guideline-suggested risk score in independent clinical studies. If blood-based amyloid-β predicts death in patients with heart disease, does it make a therapeutic target? Our next step is to investigate this.”


Sources: Stellos K, Stakos DA, Stamatelopoulos K et al. The Alzheimer’s disease amyloid-beta hypothesis in cardiovascular aging and disease: JACC focus seminar. J Am Coll Cardiol doi:10.1016/j.jacc.2019.12.033 (2020)(Epub ahead of print); www.ncl.ac.uk/press/articles/latest/2020/02/heartdiseaseresearch/

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