The research team has just published the important discovery about the causes of cardiac arrhythmias (abnormal heartbeats) in one of the world's leading scientific journals.
Together with a group from Paris, France, UBC researchers David Fedida and Jodene Eldstrom found that too much cholesterol can affect the electrical currents, perhaps causing the heart to start beating out of rhythm or even stop beating. In contrast, reducing the cholesterol normalized the structures underlying the electrical activity, thus promoting a regular and healthy heartbeat.
The researchers discovered that the key mechanism by which this happens is the Kv1.5 potassium channel, a protein that facilitates the flow of electrical charges through heart cells. Cholesterol blocks the functioning of these proteins while lowering of cholesterol levels enhances their function.
Prior to this research, scientists already knew that cholesterol plays an important role in regulating the heart's electrical system. However, they didn't know how.
"There is recent clinical and experimental evidence that lipid-lowering therapy, such as statins, can restore normal heart rhythms, thus helping to prevent sudden death," Dr. David Fedida said. "However, these pharmacological effects of statins are poorly understood and could involve other effects than their well-understood reduction of the cholesterol in blood vessels. Here we show that cholesterol regulates the submembrane pool of ion channels readily available for recruitment into the surface membranes of heart cells. This process could be a major mechanism for the tuning of the heartbeat and might contribute to the reduction in the incidence of abnormal and fatal heart rhythms during treatment with lipid-lowering drugs."
"Arrhythmias are a serious problem," said Dr. Jeff Sommers, Manager, Research and Science, Heart and Stroke Foundation of BC & Yukon. "Although they affect people of all ages, this is especially so with an aging population. This is a really exciting development that moves us well along the road of understanding how to target heart rhythm disorders for prevention and treatment."
This discovery points toward a new path for developing therapies that can directly target the causes of arrhythmia both before and after they start. Presently, anti-arrhythmic drugs are non-specific and may have significant side-effects. About 40% of Canadians have high blood cholesterol.
This research is published in the current issue of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, a top global journal. As well, the researchers will present their findings next week at a plenary session of the European Society of Cardiology in Barcelona.
Brian Lin | EurekAlert!
New study: How does Europe become a leading player for software and IT services?
03.04.2017 | Fraunhofer-Institut für System- und Innovationsforschung (ISI)
Reusable carbon nanotubes could be the water filter of the future, says RIT study
30.03.2017 | Rochester Institute of Technology
More and more automobile companies are focusing on body parts made of carbon fiber reinforced plastics (CFRP). However, manufacturing and repair costs must be further reduced in order to make CFRP more economical in use. Together with the Volkswagen AG and five other partners in the project HolQueSt 3D, the Laser Zentrum Hannover e.V. (LZH) has developed laser processes for the automatic trimming, drilling and repair of three-dimensional components.
Automated manufacturing processes are the basis for ultimately establishing the series production of CFRP components. In the project HolQueSt 3D, the LZH has...
Reflecting the structure of composites found in nature and the ancient world, researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign have synthesized thin carbon nanotube (CNT) textiles that exhibit both high electrical conductivity and a level of toughness that is about fifty times higher than copper films, currently used in electronics.
"The structural robustness of thin metal films has significant importance for the reliable operation of smart skin and flexible electronics including...
The nearby, giant radio galaxy M87 hosts a supermassive black hole (BH) and is well-known for its bright jet dominating the spectrum over ten orders of magnitude in frequency. Due to its proximity, jet prominence, and the large black hole mass, M87 is the best laboratory for investigating the formation, acceleration, and collimation of relativistic jets. A research team led by Silke Britzen from the Max Planck Institute for Radio Astronomy in Bonn, Germany, has found strong indication for turbulent processes connecting the accretion disk and the jet of that galaxy providing insights into the longstanding problem of the origin of astrophysical jets.
Supermassive black holes form some of the most enigmatic phenomena in astrophysics. Their enormous energy output is supposed to be generated by the...
The probability to find a certain number of photons inside a laser pulse usually corresponds to a classical distribution of independent events, the so-called...
Microprocessors based on atomically thin materials hold the promise of the evolution of traditional processors as well as new applications in the field of flexible electronics. Now, a TU Wien research team led by Thomas Müller has made a breakthrough in this field as part of an ongoing research project.
Two-dimensional materials, or 2D materials for short, are extremely versatile, although – or often more precisely because – they are made up of just one or a...
28.04.2017 | Event News
20.04.2017 | Event News
18.04.2017 | Event News
28.04.2017 | Life Sciences
28.04.2017 | Life Sciences
28.04.2017 | Life Sciences