How can vegetables we eat decrease inflammation and the subsequent risk to contract coronary artery disease?
Today we know that inflammation is an important part in the process of developing coronary artery disease (CAD). Patients suffering from CAD often display a low-grade chronic inflammation and high oxidative stress, even after taking routine medications. This increases the risk of contracting a heart attack or stroke. Medication to lower the symptoms of inflammation in these patients exists, but these are often accompanied by unwanted side-effects. Therefore, we are seeking methods that are safer, more easily accessible and tackle the cause of disease rather than the symptoms.
During the last couple of decades, dietary patterns high in carotenoid-rich vegetables have been found to alter inflammatory levels in blood vessels. Carotenoids are a form of bioactive antioxidant that in recent years have shown anti-inflammatory properties on a physiological as well as cellular level. One of the carotenoids that is attracting a lot of attention is lutein. Our research group has previously shown that this carotenoid brings about anti-inflammatory effects on immune cells isolated from patients with CAD.
During my PhD studies I have chosen to focus my research on investigating how carotenoids and specifically lutein can affect inflammation in patients with CAD. This is done by correlating plasma levels of carotenoids with disease/inflammatory levels as well as conducting studies on immune cells isolated from CAD patients to examine possible individual effects of lutein. For the latter, we are specifically looking at how lutein affects release of extracellular traps from neutrophils and monocytes/macrophages.