Dietary inorganic nitrate may reduce heart dysfunction caused by powerful anti-cancer drug

May 19, 2011, Virginia Commonwealth University

Virginia Commonwealth University researchers have found that nutrient supplementation, like the kind that is found in leafy greens, spinach and lettuce, may reduce the damage to the heart caused by a powerful anti-cancer drug.

Since the 1960s, the anti-cancer drug doxorubicin has remained a top choice for chemotherapy because of its superior efficacy to fight cancer. However, the drug is known to lead to permanent . Currently, there is no Food and Drug Administration-approved therapy for prevention or treatment of heart damage caused by doxorubicin.

In a study, published online ahead of print on May 16 in the , using a mouse model the team demonstrated that mice treated with dietary inorganic nitrate had a reduced rate of heart dysfunction caused by doxorubicin. On a molecular level, the dietary nitrate stabilized the mitochondria and protected against free-radical damage to the heart.

"These results may have significant impact in reducing the risk and degree of heart damage in patients who depend on doxorubicin for treatment of cancers. This is because inorganic nitrate is a water-soluble and very inexpensive chemical that could be ideal for long-term oral administration during the course of cancer treatment with doxorubicin," said Rakesh C. Kukreja, Ph.D., principal investigator for the project at VCU, and the Eric Lipman professor in cardiology in the VCU School of Medicine and the scientific director of the VCU Pauley Heart Center.

According to Kukreja, the nitrate dose used in this study is 400 percent of the World Health Organization Acceptable Daily Intake (WHO-ADI). He said that nitrate can easily be obtained from foods including , spinach and lettuces, which have high levels of nitrate, or beverages such as that are commercially available and safely used in humans.

Mitochondria are cellular organelles critical for converting oxygen and nutrients into ATP, the key fuel for cellular function. The free radicals generated in the mitochondria of cardiac cells by doxorubicin lead to the breakdown of regular cellular function, resulting in programmed cardiac cell death. Over time, cell death has been linked to decreased heart function or heart failure.

Related Stories

Recommended for you

Researchers borrow from AIDS playbook to tackle rheumatic heart disease

January 22, 2018
Billions of US taxpayer dollars have been invested in Africa over the past 15 years to improve care for millions suffering from the HIV/AIDS epidemic; yet health systems on the continent continue to struggle. What if the ...

A nanoparticle inhalant for treating heart disease

January 18, 2018
A team of researchers from Italy and Germany has developed a nanoparticle inhalant for treating people suffering from heart disease. In their paper published in the journal Science Translational Medicine, the group describes ...

Starting periods before age of 12 linked to heightened risk of heart disease and stroke

January 15, 2018
Starting periods early—before the age of 12—is linked to a heightened risk of heart disease and stroke in later life, suggests an analysis of data from the UK Biobank study, published online in the journal Heart.

'Decorated' stem cells could offer targeted heart repair

January 10, 2018
Although cardiac stem cell therapy is a promising treatment for heart attack patients, directing the cells to the site of an injury - and getting them to stay there - remains challenging. In a new pilot study using an animal ...

Two simple tests could help to pinpoint cause of stroke

January 10, 2018
Detecting the cause of the deadliest form of stroke could be improved by a simple blood test added alongside a routine brain scan, research suggests.

Exercise is good for the heart, high blood pressure is bad—researchers find out why

January 10, 2018
When the heart is put under stress during exercise, it is considered healthy. Yet stress due to high blood pressure is bad for the heart. Why? And is this always the case? Researchers of the German Centre for Cardiovascular ...

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.