Heart disease is a catch-all phrase for a variety of conditions that affect the heart’s structure and how it works.
Coronary heart disease is a type of heart disease where the arteries of the heart cannot deliver enough oxygen-rich blood to the heart. It is the leading cause of death in the United States.
In two recent studies from Temple University, scientists found in the heart, one molecule in particular, (KLF)-5, can drive both the generation of oxidizing molecules and the accumulation of toxic lipids in the heart, causing heart dysfunction.
The protein can lead to abnormal heart function, including diabetes and heart attack.
Oxidative stress occurs when harmful oxygen-containing molecules outnumber helpful antioxidants, leading to damaging reactions with proteins, DNA, and other cell components.
In the first study, the team examined the involvement of KLF5 in diabetic cardiomyopathy.
Diabetic cardiomyopathy is a major complication of diabetes and is characterized in particular by altered heart cell metabolism and oxidative damage.
The study showed that patients with diabetes have high levels of KLF5 expression in the heart.
The researchers found that mice with diabetic cardiomyopathy similarly have high KLF5 expression and that elevated KLF5 is linked to the build-up of ceramides in the heart.
Ceramides, which occur naturally in the cell membrane, are known to reach toxic levels in the presence of insulin resistance and severe heart damage, such as that inflicted by a heart attack.
The team showed that, however, these harmful effects could be halted. Inhibiting KLF5 with a drug, as well as with genetic interventions, not only reduced oxidative stress and prevented ceramide accumulation but also restored cardiac function.
In the second study, the team examined the role of KLF5 in mice with heart failure induced by cardiac ischemia, a sudden, severe blockage of blood flow to the heart.
They found that KLF5 is involved in causing the production of ceramides that underlies damage to the cardiac wall.
The team says the next step is to determine whether the severity of heart disease or the way patients respond to treatment is associated with increased KLF5.
If you care about heart health, please read studies about the best time to take vitamins to prevent heart disease, and unsalted tomato juice may help reduce heart disease risk.
For more information about health, please see recent studies about which is good for your heart health: fatty fish or lean fish? and results showing this common plant nutrient could help reduce high blood pressure.
The study findings were published in Circulation Research and Circulation and conducted by Konstantinos Drosatos et al.
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