Nav: Home

Maintaining a healthy heart through bile acids

July 27, 2016

(Edmonton, AB) Groundbreaking research from the University of Alberta and McGill University has opened the door towards the future prevention of cardiac fibrosis--a condition leading to heart failure for which there is currently no treatment.

The collaborative study, funded by the Canadian Institutes of Health Research and published in PLOS One, examined the molecular mechanisms that lead to cardiac fibrosis in a pre-clinical model. The study discovered the specific triggers activating the development of fibrosis which accelerates heart failure. Blocking the triggers through the use of a specific kind of bile acid prevented cardiac fibrosis from occurring.

"This is something that nobody has ever seen before," says Marek Michalak, co-principal investigator and a distinguished professor in the Department of Biochemistry at the University of Alberta's Faculty of Medicine & Dentistry. "Cardiac fibrosis is considered a permanent remodeling of the heart. Inevitably it leads to heart failure and eventually death. The bottom line is that this shows for the first time that cardiac fibrosis is preventable."

"It offers hope to those who are living with heart failure," adds Luis Agellon, co-principal investigator and a professor at McGill University's School of Dietetics and Human Nutrition. "Prevention of fibrosis will extend the ability of the heart to function, even if at a reduced capacity. Currently patients with heart failure have poor quality of life and a dismal prognosis. Improving their quality of life will do wonders for these individuals."

Fibrosis is an early step on the path to heart failure. According to the Heart and Stroke Foundation there are currently 1.3 million Canadians living with heart disease or heart failure--a condition that severely limits physical activity because the heart cannot pump enough oxygenated blood that the body needs. About 30 per cent of patients diagnosed with heart failure will die within the first year.

Cardiac fibrosis itself is caused by a variety of factors including high blood pressure, overwork of cardiac muscle and long-term consumption of a diet that is high in both saturated fat and sugar--all cause increased stress to heart cells. Individuals with diabetes, cancer patients undergoing chemotherapy and heart transplant recipients are also known to be at high risk.

"It's almost like building a scar," says Michalak. "It's exactly the same type of biological activity but it's happening in the heart tissue. It destroys the ability of the heart to function normally."

The team is now pushing forward with additional studies to see if the same therapeutic effect can be achieved in humans. They also aim to gain a better understanding of exactly how bile acids can prevent cardiac fibrosis from occurring.

"We don't yet have a full understanding--nobody does--of how the bile acid actually does what it does in heart cells," explains Michalak. "So, another phase of the work is to find out what actually happens within heart cells at the molecular level. How can this bile acid affect the heart in such a dramatic way?"

Once that occurs, the team hopes to work with cardiologists to quickly move the research into clinical trials, involving chemotherapy and heart transplant patients.

"If cardiac fibrosis can be stopped, then that could substantially improve the outcome for people at risk," says Agellon. "This would be a significant advance in the fight against heart disease."
-end-
This research was supported by the Canadian Institutes of Health Research.

"Inhibition of the Unfolded Protein Response Mechanism Prevents Cardiac Fibrosis," PLOS ONE, published online July 21, 2016.

University of Alberta Faculty of Medicine & Dentistry

Related Diabetes Articles:

The role of vitamin A in diabetes
There has been no known link between diabetes and vitamin A -- until now.
Can continuous glucose monitoring improve diabetes control in patients with type 1 diabetes who inject insulin
Two studies in the Jan. 24/31 issue of JAMA find that use of a sensor implanted under the skin that continuously monitors glucose levels resulted in improved levels in patients with type 1 diabetes who inject insulin multiple times a day, compared to conventional treatment.
Complications of type 2 diabetes affect quality of life, care can lead to diabetes burnout
T2D Lifestyle, a national survey by Health Union of more than 400 individuals experiencing type 2 diabetes (T2D), reveals that patients not only struggle with commonly understood complications, but also numerous lesser known ones that people do not associate with diabetes.
Type 2 diabetes and obesity -- what do we really know?
Social and economic factors have led to a dramatic rise in type 2 diabetes and obesity around the world.
A better way to predict diabetes
An international team of researchers has discovered a simple, accurate new way to predict which women with gestational diabetes will develop type 2 diabetes after delivery.
The Lancet Diabetes & Endocrinology: Older Americans with diabetes living longer without disability, US study shows
Older Americans with diabetes born in the 1940s are living longer and with less disability performing day to day tasks than those born 10 years earlier, according to new research published in The Lancet Diabetes & Endocrinology journal.
Reverse your diabetes -- and you can stay diabetes-free long-term
A new study from Newcastle University, UK, has shown that people who reverse their diabetes and then keep their weight down remain free of diabetes.
New cause of diabetes
Although insulin-producing cells are found in the endocrine tissue of the pancreas, a new mouse study suggests that abnormalities in the exocrine tissue could cause cell non-autonomous effects that promotes diabetes-like symptoms.
The Lancet Diabetes & Endocrinology: Reducing sugar content in sugar-sweetened drinks by 40 percent over 5 years could prevent 1.5 million cases of overweight and obesity in the UK and 300,000 cases of diabetes
A new study published in The Lancet Diabetes & Endocrinology journal suggests that reducing sugar content in sugar sweetened drinks (including fruit juices) in the UK by 40 percent over five years, without replacing them with any artificial sweeteners, could prevent 500,000 cases of overweight and 1 million cases of obesity, in turn preventing around 300,000 cases of type 2 diabetes, over two decades.
Breastfeeding lowers risk of type 2 diabetes following gestational diabetes
Women with gestational diabetes who consistently and continuously breastfeed from the time of giving birth are half as likely to develop type 2 diabetes within two years after delivery, according to a study from Kaiser Permanente published today in Annals of Internal Medicine.

Related Diabetes Reading:

Best Science Podcasts 2019

We have hand picked the best science podcasts for 2019. Sit back and enjoy new science podcasts updated daily from your favorite science news services and scientists.
Now Playing: TED Radio Hour

Anthropomorphic
Do animals grieve? Do they have language or consciousness? For a long time, scientists resisted the urge to look for human qualities in animals. This hour, TED speakers explore how that is changing. Guests include biological anthropologist Barbara King, dolphin researcher Denise Herzing, primatologist Frans de Waal, and ecologist Carl Safina.
Now Playing: Science for the People

#SB2 2019 Science Birthday Minisode: Mary Golda Ross
Our second annual Science Birthday is here, and this year we celebrate the wonderful Mary Golda Ross, born 9 August 1908. She died in 2008 at age 99, but left a lasting mark on the science of rocketry and space exploration as an early woman in engineering, and one of the first Native Americans in engineering. Join Rachelle and Bethany for this very special birthday minisode celebrating Mary and her achievements. Thanks to our Patreons who make this show possible! Read more about Mary G. Ross: Interview with Mary Ross on Lash Publications International, by Laurel Sheppard Meet Mary Golda...