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Herpes and cholesterol buildup.

Herpes and cholesterol buildup

There may be a viral spark to hardening of the arteries in humans, according to David P. Hajjar and Alan J. Grant of Cornell University Medical College in New York City. The researchers infected smooth-muscle cells, one of the cholesteroladen cell types found in atherosclerotic plaque, with herpes simplex virus type I, most commonly associatd with cold sores. The infected cells accumulated a significant amount of cholesterol and produced less of a chemical involved in cholesterol breakdown.

While the results implicate herpesvirus, Hajjar emphasizes that "it's one factor amongst many. I'm not saying that if you have a herpesvirus infection or cold sores due to herpes simplex virus type

1 that you're more susceptible to atherosclerosis." Given that most people are infected with the virus and not all people develop severe atherosclerosis, much remains to be learned about the connection.

There are several theories concerning the cause of atherosclerosis, including one holding that individual plaques arise from unrestrained reproduction of single cells (SN: 11/15/86, p.310). The herpesvirus connection could fit into this monoclonal hypothesis as a trigger for cell proliferation, Hajjar says.
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Author:Silberner, Joanne
Publication:Science News
Date:Nov 29, 1986
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