A research term headed by David Bernhard from the University Department of Surgery at the Medical University of Vienna has found out that substances found in cigarette smoke lead to blood vessels' endothelial cells constantly digesting themselves. This permanent damage to the interior surface of the blood vessels leads, amongst others, to calcification of the arteries, as the recently published study confirms.
"The autodigestion in vessels' endothelial cells works like an intracellular waste disposal", says Bernhard. Damaged cell components are caught, digested and recycled. Usually this is not a problem as new cell components are then created again. However, in smokers this process of digestion is constantly activated, and it leads to an excessive reaction. As a result the vessels' endothelial cells are lastingly damaged and vascular inflammations and damage occurs. In addition important properties of the endothelial cells are damaged. Bernhard says: "When the cell is intact, it impairs for example, the accumulation of thrombocytes. Furthermore it is involved, amongst others, in the regulation of blood flow." If this system is damaged, then negative effects occur, such as atherosclerosis.
Searching for a marker: "We have to help smokers".
There are approximately one billion smokers in the world. "However, there is not one single therapy with medication that is specifically for smokers. Even smokers have to be helped", says Bernhard.