Molecule associated with dangerous heart muscle growth identified

1 November 2016

A protein that prevents heart muscle cells from increasing in size when the organ is under stress has been identified by researchers.

The Osaka University team have isolated the protein Btg2 as a global regulator of RNA within cardiomyocytes, heart muscle cells that can often swell when placed under stress, potentially increasing the person's risk of heart failure.

By inducing excessive expression of this protein within stressed cardiac tissue, the size of cardiomyocytes was successfully reduced, showing this is a viable method of preventing the development of oversized cells in heart muscle.

It is well-established that the heart responds to stresses caused by conditions such as high blood pressure by expanding, both at the level of the whole organ or some of its chambers, and at the level of single cells.

This new discovery could in future lead to the creation of new treatments to limit the type of heart expansion that has been linked to heart failure.

The study's corresponding author Shuichiro Higo said: "We may be able to harness these mechanisms to reduce some of the problems associated with long-term cardiac hypertrophy and heart disease."

Posted by Philip Briggs


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