Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:


Fatty Acids Involved in Python Heart Growth Could Help Diseased Hearts

Identification of three fatty acids involved in the extreme growth of Burmese pythons’ hearts following large meals could prove beneficial in treating diseased human hearts, according to research co-authored by a University of Alabama scientist and publishing in the Oct. 28 issue of Science.

Growth of the human heart can be beneficial when resulting from exercise – a type of growth known as physiological cardiac hypertrophy – but damaging when triggered by disease – growth known as pathological hypertrophy. The new research shows a potential avenue by which to make the unhealthy heart growth more like the healthy version.

“We may later be able to turn the tables, in a sense, in the processes involved in pathological hypertrophy by administering a combination of fatty acids that occur in very high concentrations in the blood of digesting pythons,” said Dr. Stephen Secor, associate professor of biological sciences at UA and one of the paper’s co-authors. “This could trigger, perhaps, something more akin to the physiological form of hypertrophy.”

The research, conducted in collaboration with multiple researchers at the University of Colorado working in the lab of Dr. Leslie Leinwand, identified three fatty acids, myristic acid, palmitic acid and palmitoleic acid, for their roles in the snakes’ healthy heart growths following a meal.

Researchers took these fatty acids from feasting pythons and infused them into fasting pythons. Afterward, those fasting pythons underwent heart-rate growths similar to that of the feasting pythons. In a similar fashion, the researchers were able to induce comparable heart-rate growths in rats, indicating that the fatty acids have a similar effect on the mammalian heart.

The paper, whose lead author was Dr. Cecilia Riquelme of the University of Colorado, also showed that the pythons’ heart growth was a result of the individual heart cells growing in size, rather than multiplying in number.

By studying gene expression in the python hearts – which genes are turned on following feasting – the research, Secor said, shows that the changes the pythons’ hearts undergo is more like the positive changes seen in a marathon runner rather than the types of changes seen in a diseased, or genetically altered, heart.

“Cyclists, marathon runners, rowers, swimmers, they tend to have larger hearts,” Secor said. “It’s the heart working harder to move blood through it. The term is ‘volume overload,’ in reference to more blood being pumped to tissues. In response, the heart’s chambers get larger, and more blood is pushed out with every contraction, resulting in increased cardiac performance.”

However, the time-frame of this increased heart performance of a python blows away even the most physically-fit distance runner, Secor said.

“Instead of experiencing elevated cardiac performance for several hours with running, the Burmese python is maintaining heightened cardiac output for five to six days, non-stop, while digesting their large meal.”

Another interesting finding of the research, Secor said, is even with the increased volume of triglycerides circulating in the snakes after feeding, those lipids are not remaining within the snakes’ hearts or vascular systems after the completion of digestion.

“The python hearts are using the circulating lipids to fuel the increase in performance.”

Traditionally, mice have been the preferred animal model used to study the genetic heart disease known as hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, characterized by heart growth and contractile dysfunction. However, the snakes’ unusual physiological responses render them more insightful models, in some cases, Secor said.

Pythons are infrequent feeders, sometimes eating only once or twice a year in the wild. When they do eat, they undergo extreme physiologic and metabolic changes that include increases in the size of the heart, along with the liver, pancreas, small intestine and kidney. Three days after a feeding, a python’s heart mass can increase as much as 40 percent, before reverting to its pre-meal size once digestion is completed, Secor said.

Chris Bryant | EurekAlert!
Further information:

Further reports about: Burmese Colorado river Fatty Organic Acids Python Secor fatty acid

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht Strong, steady forces at work during cell division
20.10.2016 | University of Massachusetts at Amherst

nachricht Disturbance wanted
20.10.2016 | Max Delbrück Center for Molecular Medicine in the Helmholtz Association

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: New 3-D wiring technique brings scalable quantum computers closer to reality

Researchers from the Institute for Quantum Computing (IQC) at the University of Waterloo led the development of a new extensible wiring technique capable of controlling superconducting quantum bits, representing a significant step towards to the realization of a scalable quantum computer.

"The quantum socket is a wiring method that uses three-dimensional wires based on spring-loaded pins to address individual qubits," said Jeremy Béjanin, a PhD...

Im Focus: Scientists develop a semiconductor nanocomposite material that moves in response to light

In a paper in Scientific Reports, a research team at Worcester Polytechnic Institute describes a novel light-activated phenomenon that could become the basis for applications as diverse as microscopic robotic grippers and more efficient solar cells.

A research team at Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) has developed a revolutionary, light-activated semiconductor nanocomposite material that can be used...

Im Focus: Diamonds aren't forever: Sandia, Harvard team create first quantum computer bridge

By forcefully embedding two silicon atoms in a diamond matrix, Sandia researchers have demonstrated for the first time on a single chip all the components needed to create a quantum bridge to link quantum computers together.

"People have already built small quantum computers," says Sandia researcher Ryan Camacho. "Maybe the first useful one won't be a single giant quantum computer...

Im Focus: New Products - Highlights of COMPAMED 2016

COMPAMED has become the leading international marketplace for suppliers of medical manufacturing. The trade fair, which takes place every November and is co-located to MEDICA in Dusseldorf, has been steadily growing over the past years and shows that medical technology remains a rapidly growing market.

In 2016, the joint pavilion by the IVAM Microtechnology Network, the Product Market “High-tech for Medical Devices”, will be located in Hall 8a again and will...

Im Focus: Ultra-thin ferroelectric material for next-generation electronics

'Ferroelectric' materials can switch between different states of electrical polarization in response to an external electric field. This flexibility means they show promise for many applications, for example in electronic devices and computer memory. Current ferroelectric materials are highly valued for their thermal and chemical stability and rapid electro-mechanical responses, but creating a material that is scalable down to the tiny sizes needed for technologies like silicon-based semiconductors (Si-based CMOS) has proven challenging.

Now, Hiroshi Funakubo and co-workers at the Tokyo Institute of Technology, in collaboration with researchers across Japan, have conducted experiments to...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>



Event News

#IC2S2: When Social Science meets Computer Science - GESIS will host the IC2S2 conference 2017

14.10.2016 | Event News

Agricultural Trade Developments and Potentials in Central Asia and the South Caucasus

14.10.2016 | Event News

World Health Summit – Day Three: A Call to Action

12.10.2016 | Event News

Latest News

Innovative technique for shaping light could solve bandwidth crunch

20.10.2016 | Physics and Astronomy

Finding the lightest superdeformed triaxial atomic nucleus

20.10.2016 | Physics and Astronomy

NASA's MAVEN mission observes ups and downs of water escape from Mars

20.10.2016 | Physics and Astronomy

More VideoLinks >>>