Reducing the damage of a heart attack
In the aftermath of a heart attack, the body's own defenses may contribute to future heart failure. Authors of a new study believe they have identified a protein that plays an important role in a process that replaces dead heart muscle with stiffening scar tissue. The researchers are hopeful that the findings will lead to the development of new therapies to prevent this damage. "The body tries to fix the injury to the heart muscle by depositing the fibers, but this causes a greater problem," says Dr. Thomas Sato, co-senior author of the study and the Joseph C. Hinsey Professor in Cell and Developmental Biology at Weill Cornell Medical College in New York City. "This process, called fibrosis, causes the heart to become like steel, unable to contract and pump blood throughout the body. The result can be fatal."
Myocardial infarction causes 13 percent of deaths worldwide and is the leading cause of death in industrialized countries.
The researchers' promising findings were published online, Dec. 14, in Nature Cell Biology and will be featured in the upcoming January issue. Due to the findings' significance, the journal has selected the study as an issue highlight.
"Treatments for fibrosis in the heart are relatively limited, making it important to develop new and novel approaches to limit fibrosis," explains Dr. Craig Basson, co-author of the study, the Gladys and Roland Harriman Professor of Medicine and director of the Center for Molecular Cardiology at Weill Cornell Medical College, and attending physician at NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital/Weill Cornell Medical Center.
Dr. Sato and his team removed from a mouse's genome a gene called Sfrp2, stopping the mice from producing the protein sFRP2. They found that there was less scar tissue formed in the hearts of mice without the gene, compared to normal mice that still had the gene within their DNA.
The experimental mice also had improved recovery to their heart function, which leads the authors to believe that the protein has a direct affect on muscle scarring and stiffening following myocardial infarction.
The Weill Cornell team collaborated with Dr. Daniel S. Greenspan, co-senior author and professor of pathology and laboratory medicine from the University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health in Madison, Wis. Dr. Greenspan determined how the main component of connective tissue, collagen, interacts with the sFRP2 protein, and how these molecules play a crucial role in scar formation.
"With many injuries and diseases, large amounts of collagen are formed and deposited in tissues, leading to scarring and fibrosis," says Dr. Greenspan, an expert in collagen. "Fibrosis can severely affect the functioning of the heart, lung, liver and other tissues."
Together, the researchers determined that the sFRP2 protein works by accelerating the processing of pro-collagen, a precursor of mature collagen, the main component deposited in scar tissue. Following a heart attack, fibrous collagen deposits are increased, replacing the dead muscle and leading to more scar tissue, which prevents recovery.
"Therapeutically, the findings mean that it is possible to create a drug that may one day inhibit the functioning of the protein in order to limit fibrosis within the heart," says Dr. Sato. "Doing so may aid in controlling the degree of scarring, and allow the heart to continue to function following myocardial infarction."
Articles on the same topic
- Panic attacks linked to higher risk of heart attacks and heart disease, especially in younger peopleThu, 18 Dec 2008, 12:30:16 EST
- Preventing a broken heart: Research aims to reduce scarring from heart attacksSun, 14 Dec 2008, 13:22:39 EST
- Panic attacks linked to higher risk of heart attacks and heart disease, especially in younger peopleWed, 10 Dec 2008, 19:25:05 EST
- Women are more likely than men to die in hospital from severe heart attackMon, 8 Dec 2008, 16:31:38 EST
- Double threat: Deadly lung disease also linked to heart attacksFri, 5 Dec 2008, 11:10:17 EST
- Preventing A Broken Heart: Research Aims To Reduce Scarring From Heart Attacksfrom Science DailyThu, 18 Dec 2008, 22:28:12 EST
- Reducing the damage of a heart attackfrom Biology News NetTue, 16 Dec 2008, 12:49:49 EST
- Reducing the damage of a heart attackfrom Biology News NetMon, 15 Dec 2008, 15:15:18 EST
- Reducing the damage of a heart attack: Mechanism behind cardiac scarring discoveredfrom PhysorgMon, 15 Dec 2008, 13:56:12 EST
- Preventing a broken heart: Research aims to reduce scarring from heart attacksfrom Science CentricMon, 15 Dec 2008, 10:28:59 EST
- Preventing a broken heart: Research aims to reduce scarring from heart attacksfrom PhysorgSun, 14 Dec 2008, 14:49:21 EST
- Double Threat: Deadly Lung Disease Also Linked To Heart Attacksfrom Science DailyFri, 12 Dec 2008, 11:14:34 EST
- Panic Attacks Linked To Higher Risk Of Heart Attacks And Heart Disease, Especially In Younger Peoplefrom Science DailyFri, 12 Dec 2008, 0:35:53 EST
- Panic attacks linked to higher risk of heart attacks and heart diseasefrom Science CentricThu, 11 Dec 2008, 8:04:11 EST
- Panic attacks linked to higher risk of heart attacks and heart disease, especially in younger peoplefrom PhysorgThu, 11 Dec 2008, 5:14:27 EST
- Women Are More Likely Than Men To Die In Hospital From Severe Heart Attackfrom Science DailyWed, 10 Dec 2008, 9:35:46 EST
- Severe Heart Attacks Deadlier for Womenfrom NY Times HealthTue, 9 Dec 2008, 13:59:00 EST
- Women are more likely than men to die in hospital from severe heart attackfrom Science CentricTue, 9 Dec 2008, 7:59:13 EST
- Women are more likely than men to die in hospital from severe heart attackfrom PhysorgMon, 8 Dec 2008, 17:43:11 EST
- Study: Gender gap remains for heart attack carefrom AP HealthMon, 8 Dec 2008, 17:21:49 EST
- Sudden heart attacks linked to 'vulnerable plaque'from LA Times - HealthSat, 6 Dec 2008, 21:35:38 EST
- Double threat: Deadly lung disease also linked to heart attacksfrom Science CentricSat, 6 Dec 2008, 7:49:54 EST
- Heart Attack Patients Get 'Big Chill' Treatmentfrom Live ScienceFri, 5 Dec 2008, 16:21:14 EST
- Heart attack patients get 'big chill' treatmentfrom PhysorgFri, 5 Dec 2008, 14:42:53 EST
- Heart attack patients get 'big chill' treatmentfrom AP HealthFri, 5 Dec 2008, 13:28:22 EST
- Double threat: Deadly lung disease also linked to heart attacksfrom PhysorgFri, 5 Dec 2008, 11:07:27 EST
Latest Science NewsletterGet the latest and most popular science news articles of the week in your Inbox! It's free!
Learn more about
Check out our next project, Biology.Net
From other science news sites
Popular science news articles
- Bubbles from the galactic center: A key to understanding dark matter and our galaxy's past?
- Global warming doubles risk of extreme La Niña event, research shows
- How creative are you? Depends where you're from
- Using stem cells to grow new hair
- NREL reports examine economic trade-offs of owning versus leasing a solar photovoltaic system