Voelcker Academy

Research Symposium 2011


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Jonah Crayton

Ursolic Acid and its Triterpenoid Analogs are Natural Inhibitors of Monocyte Dysfunction

Jonah Crayton

Mentor(s): Dr. Reto Asmis

Atherosclerosis can be defined as the hardening of the arteries. Risk factors can lead to this hardening including; obesity, genetics, high cholesterol, a high fat diet, and diabetes. Atherosclerosis begins with monocyte migration into the arterial wall. MCP-1, Monocyte Chemoattractant Protein 1, is the key chemokine that attracts monocytes and leads them to the point of vascular injury. Dr. Asmis’ research found metabolic stress (MS) and Nox4 over expression accelerate chemotaxis. However, the mechanism behind Nox4 acceleration is still unknown. Previous experiments have shown that ursolic acid is an inhibitor of accelerated atherosclerosis and monocyte dysfunction in diabetic mice. The practical application of my anticipated findings would be that the use of ursolic acid or its analogs as dietary supplements would help to prevent accelerated atherosclerosis. These dietary supplements would be natural and more affordable than those on the market today.


Central Hypothesis: Ursolic acid and its triterpenoid analogs prevent monocyte dysfunction induced by metabolic stress by preventing Nox4 induction.


Specific Aim 1: To test if treatment of THP-1 cells with ursolic acid or its triterpenoid analogs protect against MS induced accelerated chemotaxis.


Specific Aim 2: To test if treatment of THP-1 cells with ursolic acid or its triterpenoid analogs prevent Nox4 over expression induced by MS.

Collaborators: Jonah Crayton, Chi Fung Lee, Sarah Ullevig, Debora Zamora, Reto Asmis, PhD