Antibodies cut heart attack risk

15 September 2018        

Category: Research

Specific antibodies could protect against heart attacks, according to a study we've funded published in the journal EBioMedicine.

a microsopic image of the blood clot film

Researchers from Imperial College London studied patients with high blood pressure of whom 87 had developed coronary heart disease (CHD) in one study in collaboration with Lund University in Sweden.  They also studied another 143 patients who had their heart arteries extensively studied using cutting edge techniques in collaboration with researchers from the Thorax centre in Holland.

They found that those who had heart attacks in the first study, as well as those whose arteries had unstable fatty plaques in the second study had much lower levels of an antibody called IgM anti MDA-LDL. Those who had the highest levels, were well  protected from  developing dangerous plaques in their arteries, with around a 70 per cent less chance of developing heart disease over nearly five years from one of the studies. 

Identifying people at risk

Not only could this finding help doctors to more precisely identify patients at risk of heart attack, it also raises the possibility of using therapies that improve the immune system - such as vaccines - to reduce the risk of a heart attack.

The researchers don’t yet know why some people have higher levels of this specific antibody. Although, it may be that some people inherit these protective antibodies, others may have produced them in response to common bacterial infections in childhood.

find out more about our research to prevent heart attacks