The Importance Of Elastin To Cardiovascular Health
Loss of elastin is a major contributor in incidences of heart attack, with this attributed to the loss of elastin in the body. Researchers have found that a popular drug for the treatment of hair loss may help in improving cardiovascular health.
Elastin is a very important constituent in the extracellular matrix of tissues, including blood vessels. It is an elastic protein that enables blood vessels to regain their original form after being disturbed. It is the reason why tissues and organs are flexible.
The body produces this protein only during development. Production is halted in adults and levels start to drop as people get older.
This decline obviously affects the amount of elastin in blood vessels. This causes them to become stiffer and stiffer. Heart-related issues such as high blood pressure, stroke, and heart failure can result from the stiffening of blood vessels.
Medical experts did not know of any medication until now that can be used to improve elastin levels in mature human tissue. Yet, a drug with the potential ability to help with this has been around all this while.
In a 2018 study published in the American Journal of Physiology-Heart and Circulatory Physiology, researchers found that minoxidil may help to make stiff blood vessels supple. This hair loss drug is more popular under the brand name Rogaine.
Although more popular for fighting balding, minoxidil was originally used as a vasodilator, a type of drug that promotes blood flow. Some oral formulations are used for the treatment of high blood pressure that does not respond to other mainstream medications.
Enhancing elastin deposition in mature tissue
Researchers had observed in earlier studies that the hair loss drug may help to enhance elastin deposition in tissue.
In the current study, the team used experimental, animal models of chronic vascular stiffness and hypertension as seen in Williams-Beuren Syndrome and supravalvar aortic stenosis.
“We know that genetic conditions, such as Williams-Beuren Syndrome (WS) and supravalvar aortic stenosis (SVAS), lead to abnormally low levels of elastin in developing arteries. As a result, children with WS or SVAS have stiff, narrow arteries and high blood pressure,” said Dr. Michael Shoykhet, the study co-author. “Like older adults, they are also at increased risk of sudden death and stroke.”
The researchers theorized that narrow arteries due to low elastin in the models would cause blood flow to reduce. They then set out to investigate what effects minoxidil would have on blood pressure and whether it would help relax and improve the diameter of arteries.
The team made use of arterial spin labeling based on magnetic resonance imaging and ultrasound imaging to assess the impact of the drug. The scientists evaluated effects on vessel actions, cerebral and carotid blood flow, and gene expression.
“Minoxidil not only lowered blood pressure but also increased arterial diameter and restored carotid and cerebral blood flow,” Shoykhet said. “Minoxidil also reduced functional arterial stiffness and increased arterial elastin content.”
Combating age-related arterial stiffening
Findings from this study suggest that minoxidil may be a useful treatment for the prevention of cardiovascular issues in older people. The researchers noted that the observed improvements from treatment with the drug lasted for weeks after the drug had been eliminated from the bloodstream.
It means this hair loss medication may potentially be helpful for remodeling stiff arteries in people with low elastin levels. The drug may benefit both those whose low elastin content is due to aging and persons that have this problem due to genetic conditions.
The scientists stated there was still a need for further research on these potential benefits. Among other goals, there is a need for a clearer understanding of changes in blood flow to human organs as a result of the drug.
Is Minoxidil the next anti-aging drug that may help you get both your hair and cardiovascular health back?
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