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 .

Source: University of Iowa (news : web)

Explore further: Gene predicts heart attack response and cardiac damage

Related Stories

Gene predicts heart attack response and cardiac damage

January 30, 2008

A protein has been found that influences the response of the heart to a lack of oxygen and blood flow, such as occurs during a heart attack, a team of Yale School of Medicine researchers report today in Nature.

Rare disease provides clues about enzyme role in arrhythmias

December 11, 2008

A University of Iowa study provides insight into a calcium-sensing enzyme already known to play a role in irregular heartbeats and other critical functions. The researchers showed that the enzyme, calmodulin kinase II (CaM ...

Enzyme doesn't act alone in atrial fibrillation

June 17, 2009

(June 17, 2009) - An overactive enzyme is behind a leaky calcium channel that plays a role in the development of atrial fibrillation, which is the most common cardiac arrhythmia that is responsible for a third of all strokes. ...

Recommended for you

How the finch changes its tune

August 3, 2015

Like top musicians, songbirds train from a young age to weed out errors and trim variability from their songs, ultimately becoming consistent and reliable performers. But as with human musicians, even the best are not machines. ...

Machine Translates Thoughts into Speech in Real Time

December 21, 2009

( -- By implanting an electrode into the brain of a person with locked-in syndrome, scientists have demonstrated how to wirelessly transmit neural signals to a speech synthesizer. The "thought-to-speech" process ...


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.