Genetically Engineered Tomatoes Do the Work of Good Cholesterol to Reduce Plaque
Mice that ate the freeze-dried, ground tomatoes had
less inflammation and reduced plaque build-up in their arteries
Nov. 5, 2012 — For the first time, genetically
engineered tomato plants produced a peptide that mimics the actions of
good cholesterol when eaten, researchers reported today at the American
Heart Association’s Scientific Sessions 2012.
In the study, mice that ate the freeze-dried,
ground tomatoes had less inflammation and reduced
atherosclerosis (plaque build-up in the arteries).
“We have found a new and practical way to make a
peptide that acts like the main protein in good cholesterol, but is many
times more effective and can be delivered by eating the plant,” said
Alan M. Fogelman, M.D., senior author of the study and executive chair
of the Department of Medicine and director of the Atherosclerosis
Research Unit in the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA.
Peptides are compounds of low molecular weight that
yield two or more amino acids on hydrolysis.
Researchers genetically engineered the tomatoes to
produce 6F, a small peptide that mimics the action of ApoA-1, the chief
lipoprotein (HDL or “good” cholesterol). They fed the tomatoes to mice
that lack the ability to remove low density lipoprotein (LDL or “bad”
cholesterol) from their blood and readily develop inflammation and
atherosclerosis when consuming a high-fat diet.
After the mice ate the tomatoes as 2.2 percent of
their Western-style high-fat, calorie-packed diet, those given the
peptide-enhanced tomatoes had significantly:
● lower blood levels of inflammation;
● higher paraoxonase activity, an anti-oxidant
enzyme associated with good cholesterol and related to a lower risk of
● higher levels of good cholesterol;
● decreased lysophosphatidic acid, a tumor
promoter that accelerates plaque build-up in arteries in animal models;
● less atherosclerotic plaque.
“To our knowledge this is the first example of a
drug with these properties that has been produced in an edible plant and
is biologically active when fed without any isolation or purification of
the drug,” Fogelman said.
Co-authors are Arnab Chattopadhyay, Ph.D.; Mohamad
Navab, Ph.D.; Greg Hough, B.S.; David Meriwether, B.S.; Gao Feng, Ph.D.;
Victor Grijalva, B.S.; James R. Springstead, Ph.D.; Mayakonda N.
Palgunachari, Ph.D.; Ryan Namiri-Kalantari, B.S.; G.M. Anantharamaya,
Ph.D.; Robin Farias-Eisner, M.D., Ph.D.; and Srinivasa T. Reddy, Ph.D.
Author disclosures are on the abstract.
The National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute
funded the study.
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