Jul 20, 2019 | Updated: 08:54 AM EDT

Atherosclerosis Treatment: Natural Sugar ‘Trehalose’ Discovered To Treat Hardened Or Clogged Arteries

Jun 10, 2017 07:55 AM EDT

Researchers discover that white blood cells called macrophages have the ability to clean up aortic plaque.
(Photo : John Moore/Getty Images) Natural sugar trehalose was seen to boost the ability of white blood cells called macrophages in fighting off unwanted particles in the body by eating them.

Atherosclerosis is known to be the arterial plaque buildup in the body that could lead to heart attack and stroke. However, researchers found out that a certain type of natural sugar called trehalose could be the key to treating it.

According to Medical News Today, researchers from the Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis discovered that a natural sugar called trehalose successfully cleans up clogged arteries in mice. The team discovered that the sugar triggers certain types of immune cells called macrophages.

Macrophages were then described to aid the body to fight off infection by eating unwanted particles and remove them as wastes from the body afterward. On the other hand, trehalose was identified to be a natural sugar that consists of two glucose molecule and is approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

Assistant professor of medicine at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis and senior author of the study, Babak Razani, Ph.D., then stated that trehalose successfully boosts the ability of the white blood cells macrophages in order to clean up plaque and unwanted particles in the arteries. Thus, the team’s experiment involved genetically modified mice which were separated into two groups.

The first group was mentioned to be injected with trehalose while the other group was fed with other types of sugar. The aortic plaques of the first group were described to be only 0.25 square millimeters, compared to the other group with 0.35 millimeters. The study published in the journal Nature Communications then showed that the mice injected with the sugar had their plaques reduced by about 30 percent.

“Trehalose is not just enhancing the housekeeping machinery that's already there. It's triggering the cell to make new machinery,” Dr. Razani explained. The plaque-reducing effects of the natural sugar were acknowledged and are deemed safe for humans as it could be used as a mild sweetener as reported by Slash Gear.

Nonetheless, it was then noted that the trehalose was effective when it was injected in the lab mice but not orally. Hence, researchers are now aiming to make the sugar widely available for humans with no need for injections but look for solutions to make it effective as a pill.

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