Low levels of natural antibodies increase stroke risk

The chances of suffering a stroke are linked to the presence of a certain type of antibody in the immune system, a new study from Sweden's Karolinska Institutet reveals.

Professor Johan Frostegård

The chances of suffering a stroke are linked to the presence of a certain type of antibody in the immune system, a new study from Sweden's Karolinska Institutet reveals. The researchers hope to be able to develop a vaccine that can mobilise the body's own defence against arteriosclerosis and stroke.

The research group, led by Professor Johan Frostegard, has previously demonstrated that high levels of a certain type of antibody (anti-PC) in the immune system are linked to a reduced risk of arteriosclerosis, a common cause of thrombosis and myocardial infarction.

In the current study, the researchers focused exclusively on stroke and compared 227 individuals who had suffered stroke over a 13-year period with 445 sex and age-matched controls. After controlling for other risk factors (age, sex, smoking habits, cholesterol levels, diabetes, BMI and blood pressure), they were able to show that low levels (below 30%) of PC antibodies correlated with a higher risk of stroke.

The team suggests that low levels of natural PC antibodies, which can owing to a poor immune system, contribute to the development of arteriosclerosis and stroke.

"We're now examining the possibility of developing new immunological treatments for arteriosclerosis and stroke, either in the form of a vaccine to stimulate the immune defence or immunisation through the injection of antibodies," said Frostegard.

The study was carried out under the EU's CVDIMMUNE consortium, led by Frostegard at Karolinska Institutet. The first author, Roland Fiskesund, is a doctoral student in the project, which is based at the Karolinska Institutet's Department of Medicine in Huddinge, Stockholm.




Photo credit: Sabina Bossi

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