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How the brain is involved in hardening the arteries – healing practice



New insights into the development of atherosclerosis

If there are grease deposits on the walls of the blood vessels form and therefore the blood flow is impeded, doctors speak of a atherosclerosis. Hardening of the arteries is common Causes strokes and heart attacks. A German research team has just discovered that Brain plays a larger role in this process than previously thought.

researchers of Ludwig-Maximilians-University of Munich report on the latest findings on atherosclerosis: Apparently diseased blood vessels and the brain are directly connected to each other via nerve pathways. The international working group sees in this respect the Causal treatment key. The study was recently published in the renowned journal “Naturewas published and awarded by the German Heart Foundation.

What happens in atherosclerosis in the blood vessels?

As experts from the German Heart Foundation explain, this happens during atherosclerosis Deposits in the walls of blood vessels. This plates consist of blood fats, blood clots and calcium. The body reacts to it inflammatory reactionswhich make the vessel walls increasingly brittle and rough until they eventually harden.

In this way, the diameter of the arteries decreases and it gets there less blood and therefore also less oxygen to organs. When these deposits loosen, they drift into the vessels with the blood flow and can completely block them elsewhere in the body.

Atherosclerosis is the leading cause of death worldwide

This manifests as a heart attack, stroke, or peripheral arterial occlusive disease (PAD), which is a circulatory disorder in the legs or arms. According to the German Heart Foundation, atherosclerosis is the most common cause of death. Only in Europe die every year about four million people consequences of.

No curative treatment available

Chronic vascular inflammation can currently only be treated symptomatically. This is partly because it was unclear exactly how the inflammatory responses associated with atherosclerosis are triggered. This could now be clarified in the context of the current study.

“Revolutionary Insights”

“These are groundbreaking findings, as they open up completely new therapeutic strategies for treating atherosclerosis surgically and with drugs.”explains the heart surgeon professor medical doctor Armin Welz. He is president of the scientific council German Heart Research Foundation (DSHF). The Foundation awarded the working group the “August Wilhelm and Lieselotte Becht Research Prize”, endowed with 15,000 euros.

The nervous and immune systems are closely linked

“We already knew from neuroimmunology that the nervous and immune systems are closely linked”explains the biomedical scientist Dr Sarajo Mohanta of the research team. Previous studies had already shown that not only plaques but also the outer layer of blood vessels (weed) collect white blood cells from the immune system.

These immune cells form real aggregates there to absorb blood lipids. Due to the presence of immune cells, the research team wondered if an atherosclerotic artery was directly connected to the the nervous system communicated.

Brain knows atherosclerosis spots in blood vessels

“No one had asked this question before because atherosclerotic plaques are not connected to nerves”Explain doctor mahanta. But researchers have discovered for the first time receptors that recognize where the plaques and inflammation are. This information is transmitted by means of electrical signals through the nerve pathways and through the spinal cord transmitted directly to the brain.

Stress Response Fuels Inflammation

According to scientists, the brain processes these signals and sends a response back to diseased blood vessels, causing a stress response generated by the autonomic nervous system. As a result, people migrate more immune cells in the adventitia and the inflammation got worse himself.

“Another indication that there is intensive communication between diseased arteries and the brain via nerve pathways is the fact that we found ten times more nerve cells in the outer wall of diseased blood vessels in animal models and in patients than in healthy arteries.”emphasizes Dr. mahanta

Of “tremendous importance” for the treatment of atherosclerosis

This communication cycle between the arteries and the brain was according to the working group so far completely unknown. For the treatment of atherosclerosis, the discovered mechanism has a “of immense importance”.

Researchers have previously attempted to interrupt communication between the brain and atherosclerotic blood vessels in mice, which actually led to a reduction in plaques in diseased blood vessels.

“This can lead to countless treatment strategies that fight atherosclerosis at the root”abstract doctor mahanta. However, it will still be a long time before such therapies can be used in humans, the biomedical scientist points out. (vb)

Author and source information

This text corresponds to the requirements of the specialized medical literature, medical guidelines and current studies and has been verified by health professionals.


Graduate editor (FH) Volker Blasek


  • Mohanta SK et al. : Cardiovascular neuroimmune interfaces control atherosclerosis; in: Nature (2022).,
  • German Heart Foundation: Researcher discovers how diseased blood vessels and the brain communicate (Published: 14.11.2022),

Important note:
This article contains general advice only and should not be used for self-diagnosis or treatment. It cannot substitute a visit to the doctor.

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