Study: Fountain of youth for your heart?

November 2, 2007

An age-related decline in heart function is a risk factor for heart disease in the elderly. While many factors contribute to a progressive age-related decline in heart function, alterations in the types of fuels the heart uses to produce energy also play important roles. Jason Dyck and his research team at the University of Alberta have been studying the types of fuels used by the heart in young and aged mice.

The young healthy heart normally used a balance of fat and sugar to generate energy to allow the heart to beat and pump blood efficiently. However, as the heart ages the ability to use fat as an energy source deteriorates. This compromises heart function in the elderly.

Interestingly, at a time when the heart is using less fat for energy, Dyck has shown that a protein that is responsible for transporting fat into the contractile cells of the heart actually increases. Based on this finding, Dyck proposed that the mismatch between fat uptake and fat use in the heart could lead to an accumulation of fat in the heart resulting in an age-related decrease in heart function.

Using a genetically engineered mouse that is deficient in a protein that is responsible for transporting fat into the cells of the heart, Dyck studied these mice as they aged. These genetically altered mice have no choice but to mainly use sugar as a fuel source because they lack the protein that allows them to use fat as a primary fuel source. In an exciting new finding, Dyck showed that old genetically modified mice did not accumulate fat in their hearts, as did ordinary mice.

In addition, Dyck and his team showed that these old genetically altered mice out-performed ordinary old mice on a treadmill test, were completely protected from age-related decline in heart function, and in many ways their hearts looked and performed like hearts from a young mouse. His findings suggest that the protein responsible for transporting fat into the contractile cells of the heart may be a candidate for drug inhibition and that this drug could protect the heart from aging.

This research holds great promise for human beings. Dyck hopes it will lead to the development of medications that inhibit the uptake of fatty acids into the heart and prevent and/or reverse the effects of aging on the heart muscle.

Source: University of Alberta

Explore further: Powerful antioxidant resveratrol prevents metabolic syndrome in lab tests: study

Related Stories

Powerful antioxidant resveratrol prevents metabolic syndrome in lab tests: study

September 2, 2011
Researchers in the Faculty of Medicine & Dentistry at the University of Alberta have discovered that resveratrol, a powerful antioxidant found in common foods, prevents a syndrome in some offspring that could lead to later ...

Recommended for you

How defeating THOR could bring a hammer down on cancer

December 14, 2017
It turns out Thor, the Norse god of thunder and the Marvel superhero, has special powers when it comes to cancer too.

Researchers track muscle stem cell dynamics in response to injury and aging

December 14, 2017
A new study led by researchers at Sanford Burnham Prebys Medical Discovery Institute (SBP) describes the biology behind why muscle stem cells respond differently to aging or injury. The findings, published in Cell Stem Cell, ...

'Human chronobiome' study informs timing of drug delivery, precision medicine approaches

December 13, 2017
Symptoms and efficacy of medications—and indeed, many aspects of the human body itself—vary by time of day. Physicians tell patients to take their statins at bedtime because the related liver enzymes are more active during ...

Time of day affects severity of autoimmune disease

December 12, 2017
Insights into how the body clock and time of day influence immune responses are revealed today in a study published in leading international journal Nature Communications. Understanding the effect of the interplay between ...

Estrogen discovery could shed new light on fertility problems

December 12, 2017
Estrogen produced in the brain is necessary for ovulation in monkeys, according to researchers at the University of Wisconsin-Madison who have upended the traditional understanding of the hormonal cascade that leads to release ...

3-D printed microfibers could provide structure for artificially grown body parts

December 12, 2017
Much as a frame provides structural support for a house and the chassis provides strength and shape for a car, a team of Penn State engineers believe they have a way to create the structural framework for growing living tissue ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.