Study helps advance heart-related research

December 4, 2009

Using a new mathematical model of heart cells, University of Iowa investigators have shown how activation of a critical enzyme, calmodulin kinase II (CaM kinase), disrupts the electrical activity of heart cells.

The study, which also involved Columbia University, was published online Dec. 3 in the journal .

"Recently, researchers have developed great interest in calmodulin kinase II as a critical regulator of the heart's response to injury. By targeting this enzyme's activity, it may be possible to prevent or treat heart disease and associated electrical rhythm disturbances," said Thomas Hund, Ph.D., associate in internal medicine at the University of Iowa Roy J. and Lucille A. Carver College of Medicine and the paper's senior author.

"CaM kinase is activated when the heart experiences injury, for example, when an artery providing blood to the heart becomes blocked. In the short-term, this increase in activity may be the heart's attempt to increase blood flow," Hund said. "However, unfortunately, the initial response results in a vicious cycle that likely advances heart disease."

In this study, the team analyzed tissue from injured hearts from animals, in which a coronary artery had been blocked. They found a dramatic increase in the levels of oxidized CaM kinase in specific heart regions where potentially lethal occurs.

Using the mathematical model of the cardiac cell, the researchers were able to predict, through computer simulation, the effects of oxidized CaM kinase on cardiac electrical activity.

Oxidation activates the enzyme by modifying key chemical groups. In heart disease, oxidation is overactive, and CaM kinase is turned on too much.

"Oxidation appears to be a critical pathway for activation of CaM kinase in disease," Hund said. "Heart cells are very difficult to study, so improving our research tools -- as we did by creating the -- is critical for generating new insight into mechanisms."

The study also included significant contributions from Peter Mohler, Ph.D., University of Iowa associate professor of internal medicine, Mark Anderson, M.D., Ph.D., University of Iowa professor and head of internal medicine, and Penelope Bodyen, Ph.D., professor of pharmacology, at Columbia University.

More information: The published study can be read online at www.ploscompbiol.org/article/i … journal.pcbi.1000583 .

Source: University of Iowa (news : web)

Related Stories

Recommended for you

Scientists find key to regenerating blood vessels

November 23, 2017
A new study led by researchers at Sanford Burnham Prebys Medical Discovery Institute (SBP) identifies a signaling pathway that is essential for angiogenesis, the growth of new blood vessels from pre-existing vessels. The ...

Researchers find infectious prions in Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease patient skin

November 22, 2017
Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease (CJD)—the human equivalent of mad cow disease—is caused by rogue, misfolded protein aggregates termed prions, which are infectious and cause fatal damages in the patient's brain. CJD patients ...

Surprising roles for muscle in tissue regeneration, study finds

November 22, 2017
A team of researchers at Whitehead has illuminated an important role for different subtypes of muscle cells in orchestrating the process of tissue regeneration. In a paper published in the November 22 issue of Nature, they ...

Study reveals new mechanisms of cell death in neurodegenerative disorders

November 22, 2017
Researchers at King's College London have discovered new mechanisms of cell death, which may be involved in debilitating neurodegenerative disorders, such as Alzheimer's disease and Parkinson's disease.

Cinnamon turns up the heat on fat cells

November 21, 2017
New research from the University of Michigan Life Sciences Institute has determined how a common holiday spice—cinnamon—might be enlisted in the fight against obesity.

How rogue immune cells cross the blood-brain barrier to cause multiple sclerosis

November 21, 2017
Drug designers working on therapeutics against multiple sclerosis should focus on blocking two distinct ways rogue immune cells attack healthy neurons, according to a new study in the journal Cell Reports.

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.