Normal wear and tear damages the blood vessel lining, which is called the endothelial lining. The body, however, has the ability to initiate molecular activity that regenerates and repairs this damage. Now, researchers at the Eli and Edythe Broad Center of Regenerative Medicine and Stem Cell Research at UCLA in California have, for the first time, followed this regeneration in progress and identified the genes and proteins responsible for spurring it. Their findings could eventually lead to novel methods to repair more severe blood vessel damage, including damage that can result from placing stents — metal or plastic mesh tubes that open blocked or narrow blood vessels. The study, led by Dr. Luisa Iruela-Arispe, a UCLA Professor of Molecular, Cell and Developmental Biology and a member of the UCLA Broad Stem Cell Research Center, was published online on August 2, 2018 in Cell Stem Cell. The article is titled “Endothelial Regeneration of Large Vessels Is a Biphasic Process Driven by Local Cells with Distinct Proliferative Capacities.” “The well-being of the endothelial lining is really fundamental for health,” Dr. Iruela-Arispe said. “Understanding how to keep this lining in good shape will help us make progress in treating multiple disease states.” In blood vessels snaking throughout the body — circulating blood to organs and extremities — the endothelial lining acts as a filter and a wall. The composition of the lining, which includes anti-clotting protein on its surface, generally prevents blood from clotting as it moves through the body, and controls what materials — such as inflammatory cells — can enter and exit the blood flow.
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