OCT 17, 2017 02:03 PM PDT

Gene Overexpression Saves the Day After a Heart Attack

WRITTEN BY: Kara Marker

Following a heart attack, cells of the heart muscle tissue are in danger of damage and death, because the tissue is left without access to oxygen. The more cells that die, the higher the risk of the heart attack survivor developing heart failure later in life. In 2013, cardiovascular disease was responsible for about 17.3 million deaths.

From the University of Alabama at Birmingham, scientists provide some good news in sea full of stories that are largely gloomy. To improve a struggling approach to treating a heart attack - transplanting living heart muscle cells into a damaged heart - researchers now show that overexpression of a gene called CCND2 (cyclin D2) boosts growth and replication of transplanted cells.

Overexpression of CCND2 works to the heart’s advantage by activating the cell cycle in each of the cells transplanted into a person who has just had a heart attack, essentially creating a “repair patch.” Without repair, a post-heart attack heart is likely to develop heart failure and ultimately lead to death, all due to cell damage. To put it simply, cells dying after a heart attack aren’t replaced with new, functioning heart cells; instead, scar tissue cells take their place. Without enough manpower from the heart muscle tissue, the heart can no longer effectively pump blood to the body, which leads to heart failure.

In their study published in the journal Circulation Research, UAB scientists studied the specific effects of CCND2 overexpression in mice models of heart attack. They used cardiomyocytes derived from human induced pluripotent stem cells (hiPSC-CMs) as the transplanted cells, so they could illustrate as closely as possible an effect that would, in theory, also occur in humans.

By kicking the cell cycle into overdrive, overexpression of CCND2 provided a variety of beneficial effects following a heart attack, compared to mice who did not experience overexpression of the gene:

  • Improved heart function

  • Larger “repair patch” of hiPSC-CMs

  • Smaller areas of dead tissue

  • Increased levels of new blood vessel formation, a process called angiogenesis

Together, these effects represent virtually all of the qualities desired to maximize recovery following a heart attack and to minimize the risk of future heart disease. Going forward, this research team hopes to someday translate their findings into a clinical treatment for human heart attack patients.

Sources: University of Alabama at Birmingham, American Heart Association, National Center for Biotechnology Information

About the Author
  • I am a scientific journalist and enthusiast, especially in the realm of biomedicine. I am passionate about conveying the truth in scientific phenomena and subsequently improving health and public awareness. Sometimes scientific research needs a translator to effectively communicate the scientific jargon present in significant findings. I plan to be that translating communicator, and I hope to decrease the spread of misrepresented scientific phenomena! Check out my science blog: ScienceKara.com.
You May Also Like
NOV 15, 2018
Genetics & Genomics
NOV 15, 2018
How Technology can Help Feed the World
As the world's population grows, plant scientists know that the race is on to develop technologies that will help feed everyone....
NOV 24, 2018
Genetics & Genomics
NOV 24, 2018
Alzheimer's Researchers Detect Genetic Recombination in the Brain
Our genomic sequence is thought to remain the same throughout our lives. But new research has found evidence to the contrary....
DEC 03, 2018
DEC 03, 2018
Genes Involved In Dementia Identified
Genetic factors have also been recognized as a critical contributor for dementia and identifying these genes will eventually allow for gene-specific therapeutics to be developed. Although sci...
JAN 03, 2019
JAN 03, 2019
Genetic Risk Factors Make Some People Susceptible to Common Microbes
Th mycobacteria family of microbes includes over 70 members, which are everywhere and are often harmless. But they make some people sick....
JAN 05, 2019
Health & Medicine
JAN 05, 2019
The CRISPR Craze - New Frontiers in Gene Editing
The CRISPR/Cas system is an adaptive prokaryotic immune system which allows bacteria to inhibit viral infection. In 2012, Jennifer Doudna and Emmanuelle Charpentier were...
JAN 09, 2019
Cell & Molecular Biology
JAN 09, 2019
New Findings on the Early Stages of Autism Spectrum Disorder
While the prevalence of autism spectrum disorder has grown, there is still a lot we don't know about what causes the disorder....
Loading Comments...