RESEARCHERS at the Washington University School of Medicine, St. Louis, USA have demonstrated that high levels of circulating fatty acid synthase (cFAS) in the blood could be used to detect a severe type of peripheral artery disease caused by narrowing arteries in the legs, which could increase the risk of developing a heart attack or a stroke. Current healthcare professionals use blood pressure, cholesterol levels, and blood sugar to evaluate cardiovascular health. Unfortunately, there are no accurate blood tests to precisely detect the risk of artery narrowing or blockage.
Data states that approximately 12 million people in the USA are diagnosed with a form of peripheral artery disease, and of these patients around 1 million progress to a severe form called chronic limb-threatening ischemia. Vascular surgery is often required open the peripheral arteries and enhance blood flow, and in certain severe cases of the disease, patients may have to undergo leg amputation.
The researchers of the study collated blood samples of 87 patients diagnosed with chronic limb-threatening ischemia prior to a vascular surgery. By reviewing previous diagnosis, they found that Type 2 diabetes and smoking status greatly and independently corresponded with chronic limb-threatening ischemia. They further discovered that cFAS levels, associated with the fatty acid synthase content of plaque sampled from the main vessel supplying blood to the legs, was also independently associated with the disease. Interestingly, they noted that cFAS circulates attached to low-density lipoproteins (LDL), which begs the question on whether healthy individuals with high levels of LDL should be prescribed with cholesterol-lowering medication.
However, researchers have found that there were higher levels of LDL than cFAS in the blood, so it is crucial to identify how much of the LDL is bound to cFAS, rather than circulating alone. In conclusion, the authors are now investigating cFAS as a possible target for advanced drug therapies that could slow down the build-up of plaque, and potentially treat or prevent cardiovascular disease.
“There are drugs that inhibit fatty acid synthase, and we’re working on evaluating new ones that are more targeted,” Mohamed A. Zayed, Associate Professor of Surgery and of radiology the Washington University School of Medicine, St. Louis, USA said. “None of them are ready for clinical trials in people for this purpose yet, but we’re using those drugs to test animal models of the disease to see if they actually decrease the buildup of plaque in the arteries. It would be wonderful to be able to practice precision vascular medicine — to tailor therapy to high-risk patients to reduce their risk of developing severe complications of cardiovascular disease.”