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Patients with advanced heart disease have arteries that are biologically up to 40 years older than their actual age because of genetic damage, a British Heart Foundation (BHF) team at Cambridge has found.
But research has now also found that statins – normally prescribed for lowering cholesterol and reducing heart attack risk – can also stop arteries ageing prematurely.
The study is published in the latest issue of the the journal Circulation Research and is the work of Professor Martin Bennett, BHF Professor of Cardiovascular Sciences at Cambridge, and colleagues from the Division of Cardiovascular Medicine.
The more divisions cells undergo, the older the tissue becomes and the higher the risk of damaged DNA. Cells in the arteries of people with heart disease divide between seven and 13 times faster than normal, resulting in more damage.
Professor Bennett and colleagues found that statins increased the levels of Nijmegen breakage syndrome (NBS)-1 protein, which, with another protein called human double minute protein Hdm2, is essential for, and can also speed up, DNA repair.
Professor Bennett said: “If statins can also do this in other cells, they may protect normal tissues from DNA damage that occurs as part of cancer treatments, potentially reducing the side effects associated with them.”
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