Study helps advance heart-related research

Dec 04, 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 www.ploscompbiol.org/article/i… journal.pcbi.1000583 .

Source: University of Iowa (news : web)

Explore further: A new way to diagnose malaria, using magnetic fields

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Discovery has implications for heart disease

May 01, 2008

A study, led by University of Iowa researchers, reveals a new dimension for a key heart enzyme and sheds light on an important biological pathway involved in cell death in heart disease. The study, published in the May 2 ...

Rare disease provides clues about enzyme role in arrhythmias

Dec 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 ...

Study provides insight on a common heart rhythm disorder

Oct 07, 2008

University of Iowa researchers and colleagues in France have identified a gene variant that causes a potentially fatal human heart rhythm disorder called sinus node disease. Also known as "sick sinus syndrome," the disease ...

Enzyme doesn't act alone in atrial fibrillation

Jun 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. ...

Gene predicts heart attack response and cardiac damage

Jan 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.

Recommended for you

A new way to diagnose malaria, using magnetic fields

15 hours ago

Over the past several decades, malaria diagnosis has changed very little. After taking a blood sample from a patient, a technician smears the blood across a glass slide, stains it with a special dye, and ...

How Alzheimer's peptides shut down cellular powerhouses

Aug 29, 2014

The failing in the work of nerve cells: An international team of researchers led by Prof. Dr. Chris Meisinger from the Institute of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology of the University of Freiburg has discovered ...

User comments : 0