November 14, 2003
Ozone found inside human bodies could be a crucial aggravator of the hardening of arteries, which can result in heart attack and has been linked to diseases such as lupus, multiple sclerosis and rheumatoid arthritis, says a study out this week.
Scientists at the Scripps Research Institute, California, discovered last year that human antibodies produce ozone. As a reactive molecule, further investigation has gone into what effects the gas is actually having when produced in the body.
The research found that ozone triggered changes in other molecules in the body, such as cholesterol. The ozone breaks the cholesterol down into toxic compounds, which have been discovered, in atherosclerotic plaques - the material which develops when arteries harden through the build up of matter such as fibrous tissue, calcium, fat and cholesterol.
Atherosclerosis, the disease of clogged arteries, is thought to be so pathogenic due to these toxic compounds because they endanger white blood cells, smooth muscle cells and cells from arterial walls - all of which are close to atherosclerotic plaques.
Professor Richard Lerner, TSRI President and TSRI Associate Porfessor Paul Wentworth have carried out the research. Their findings are published in the current edition of Science.
Professor Wentworth said: "Ozone is damaging, and it is really a problem that we are going to have to think about in the next few years. There may be a whole slew of molecules that ozone generates that we have never thought about before."
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