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
DEC 12, 2019
Genetics & Genomics
DEC 12, 2019
Dolphins Lost 85 Genes to Become Aquatic
Dolphins, whales and porpoises are marine mammals; otherwise known as cetaceans. Although they live exclusively underwater nowadays, tens of millions of ye...
DEC 12, 2019
Cancer
DEC 12, 2019
Altered DNA methylation controls genes in cancer
New research published in the journal Genome Biology provide new information on genomic structural variation via DNA methylation and its connection to gene...
DEC 12, 2019
Genetics & Genomics
DEC 12, 2019
Blue Light Exposure Shortens the Lifespan of Fruit Flies
Blue light caused damage even in flies that did not have eyes, and if given a choice, fruit flies will avoid blue light....
DEC 12, 2019
Genetics & Genomics
DEC 12, 2019
A Way to Predict Which Microbes Can Cause Cancer
Researchers have created a technique that can identify bacteria and viruses that are linked to cancer....
DEC 12, 2019
Microbiology
DEC 12, 2019
Flesh-Eating Infection Turns Deadly When Two Microbes Are to Blame
Some illnesses can happen because a person is infected with more than one microbial pathogen, and these pathogens can interact....
DEC 12, 2019
Microbiology
DEC 12, 2019
New Drug Can Promote Resistance in the Flu Virus
A flu drug, while still safe and effective, encourages flu viruses to mutate, especially in children....
Loading Comments...