Mexico: Study identifies avocado molecule that prevents blood clots
Mexican researchers have found which molecules in avocados are the most beneficial to people with cardiovascular diseases, and now hope the study could lead to economic benefits for the country.
A team from the Zambrano Hellion Hospital and Monterrey Institute of Technology's FEMSA Biotechnology Center isolated the acetogenin molecule, and say it can help reduce the risk of blood clots occurring in arteries.
Cardiovascular diseases are amongst the leading causes of death in Mexico, as they are in many developed countries.
Dr. Gerardo García Rivas, Zambrano Hellion Hospital research center director, said a recent American Heart Association study found avocado consumption could lower cholesterol levels and therefore help to limit the formation of artery-clotting thrombi.
Now, the researchers have been able to establish that a specific group of fatty molecules are responsible for the antithrombotic activity.
García-Rivas said he hoped this study would lead to greater knowledge of how the molecules function in the human body.
In addition, he mentioned the study could bring economic benefits to Mexico, given that it the largest exporter and consumer of avocados in the world.
The study 'Isolation and chemical identification of lipid derivatives from avocado (Persea americana) pulp with antiplatelet and antithrombotic activities' was published in the Food and Function magazine.
When a blood vessel is injured, the body's first reaction is to generate platelets, or thrombocytes, to help clot the wound and prevent blood loss.
"However, when our arteries already have problems due to high cholesterol, alcohol consumption, smoking, or stress, amongst other causes, these platelets can also contribute to the formation of thrombi, which can result in a heart attack or stroke," García-Rivas said.
"What we have demonstrated is that with these avocado molecules, acetogenins, the platelets build up far less, thereby diminishing the formation of blood clots."
As an example of this, García-Rivas noted that patients with high risk of having a heart attack or stroke were often prescribed a small quantity of aspirin. He highlighted aspirin has a similar effect to the avocado molecule, as it also helps prevent the accumulation of platelets.
Dr. Carmen Hernández-Brenes, of the Monterrey Biotechnology Center, explained the team had focused on separating the various families of fatty avocado molecules until it found the ones responsible for the antithrombotic activity.
"We isolated a family of molecules with the aforementioned benefits using platelets from humans and mice. We were also able to discover the chemical identity of the molecules that generate these benefits," she said.
Researchers hope to move on to the second phase of the study this year, which would involve human studies to see whether these molecules could be used safety as a treatment.