Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

ESC cardiologists 'intrigued'by novel approach to heart failure

31.01.2012
Sophia Antipolis -- The European Society of Cardiology (ESC) welcomes an "intriguing" study, published today in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology, featuring a completely novel approach for improving endothelial function in heart failure¹.

In the "hypothesis generating" study, ursodeoxycholic acid (UDCA) delivered significant improvements in peak post ischemic blood flow in the arm, a trend for improvement in peak post ischemic blood flow in the leg, but failed to show benefits in exercise capacity and several inflammatory markers. Despite such conflicting data, ESC spokespersons believe that further exploration of UCDA is now justified in larger populations of heart failure patients.

"Although the study failed on two out of three counts , the observed improvements in post ischemic arm and leg blood flow make it highly unlikely such findings would have occurred purely by chance," says Professor Kenneth Dickstein, an ESC spokesperson. "The results are enough to pique real interest and suggest the approach has the potential to offer another string to our bow for improving heart failure symptoms."

It is also noteworthy, adds Dickstein from the University of Bergen (Stavanger University Hospital, Norway), that JACC felt the study to be of sufficient merit to commission an editorial².

The theory underlying the use of UDCA (a bile acid commonly used in the treatment of cholestatic liver disease) centres on the finding that abdominal congestion (caused by heart failure) leads to increased gut permeability, allowing endotoxins produced by gram negative bacteria to enter the circulation. The increased levels of proinflammatory cytokines can then further exacerbate symptoms of heart failure. UDCA is able to form a complex ("mixed micelles") around a component of the cell-wall of the gram-negative bacteria (lipopolysaccharide), thereby decreasing levels of proinflammatory cytokines and offering the potential to improve peripheral blood flow and ultimately increase exercise tolerance.

In the last 10 to 15 years studies have explored modifying inflammation in heart failure patients (through anti-inflammatory agents, antibiotics and statins), but all have proved neutral or in some cases even resulted in worse outcomes for patients.
In the current prospective double-blind, cross-over study, Stephan von Haehling, from the Charité Medical School (Berlin, Germany), and colleagues from Poland, UK, Austria and Italy, assessed the effects of UDCA on endothelial function and inflammatory markers in 17 chronic heart failure patients who received 500 mg UDCA twice daily for four weeks, followed by placebo for another four weeks. Results showed that in comparison with placebo, UDCA significantly improved peak post-ischemic blood flow in the arm (p=0.038), and showed a trend for improved peak blood flow in the leg (p=0.079). No change, however, occurred in the six-minute walk test and for New York Heart Association functional class, and furthermore, levels of tumour necrosis factor a and interleukin-6 remained unchanged.

"One difficulty is that the UDCA hypothesis follows a precise pathway, and the results fail to demonstrate each step of the pathway, i.e. show that improvements in peripheral blood flow translate into improvements in the functional capacity measured by the six minute walk test", says Professor Aldo Maggioni, an ESC spokesperson, from the Centre of the Italian Association of Hospital Cardiologists (Florence, Italy). Furthermore, he adds, even improvements in peripheral blood flow were not equal in the arms and legs.

"The cross over design offers a real strength of the study since it allows patients to act as their own controls, but, the small number of patients involved makes statistical analysis unreliable," says Maggioni.

Any future studies undertaken, says Dickstein, will need to involve larger cohorts of patients. "One big question for me is whether four weeks of treatment is sufficient to produce significant effects. This begs the question of whether higher doses and longer durations of treatment might have produced clearer cut answers," he adds.

Recent registries showing a 5 to 8% annual mortality for chronic heart failure patients underline the urgent need for new heart failure treatments in addition to the standard ACE inhibitors, ARBs, beta blockers, aldosterone blockers and devices (implantable cardioverter defibrillators and cardiac resynchronisation therapy). "Since UDCA doesn't involve any of the known mechanisms adding this approach to the standard treatments might result in incremental gains," says Maggioni.

What's undisputed is that UDCA seems to have the ability to fire the imagination. "Part of the appeal of the concept is that it's so intuitively attractive. It provides a biologically plausible hypothesis that's really easy for everyone to understand," says Dickstein.

Reference
1. S. von Haehling, J. C. Schefold, E.A. Jankowska, et al. Ursodeoxycholic Acid in Patients With Chronic Heart Failure: A double-blind, randomized, placebo-controlled, crossover trial. J Am Coll Cardiol February 7 2012;59:585.

2. J.M. McCabe, J.R. Teerlink, et al. Bile Salts for the Treatment of Heart Failure: Out on a limb for a gut feeling? Ibid, pp593-4.

The European Society of Cardiology (ESC) represents more than 71,200 cardiology professionals across Europe and the Mediterranean. Its mission is to reduce the burden of cardiovascular disease in Europe.

ESC Press Office:
Tel: 33-4-92-94-86-27
Fax: 33-4-92-94-86-69
Email: press@escardio.org

ESC Press Office | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.escardio.org

More articles from Health and Medicine:

nachricht PET imaging tracks Zika virus infection, disease progression in mouse model
20.09.2017 | US Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Diseases

nachricht 'Exciting' discovery on path to develop new type of vaccine to treat global viruses
18.09.2017 | University of Southampton

All articles from Health and Medicine >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

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

Im Focus: Tiny lasers from a gallery of whispers

New technique promises tunable laser devices

Whispering gallery mode (WGM) resonators are used to make tiny micro-lasers, sensors, switches, routers and other devices. These tiny structures rely on a...

Im Focus: Ultrafast snapshots of relaxing electrons in solids

Using ultrafast flashes of laser and x-ray radiation, scientists at the Max Planck Institute of Quantum Optics (Garching, Germany) took snapshots of the briefest electron motion inside a solid material to date. The electron motion lasted only 750 billionths of the billionth of a second before it fainted, setting a new record of human capability to capture ultrafast processes inside solids!

When x-rays shine onto solid materials or large molecules, an electron is pushed away from its original place near the nucleus of the atom, leaving a hole...

Im Focus: Quantum Sensors Decipher Magnetic Ordering in a New Semiconducting Material

For the first time, physicists have successfully imaged spiral magnetic ordering in a multiferroic material. These materials are considered highly promising candidates for future data storage media. The researchers were able to prove their findings using unique quantum sensors that were developed at Basel University and that can analyze electromagnetic fields on the nanometer scale. The results – obtained by scientists from the University of Basel’s Department of Physics, the Swiss Nanoscience Institute, the University of Montpellier and several laboratories from University Paris-Saclay – were recently published in the journal Nature.

Multiferroics are materials that simultaneously react to electric and magnetic fields. These two properties are rarely found together, and their combined...

Im Focus: Fast, convenient & standardized: New lab innovation for automated tissue engineering & drug

MBM ScienceBridge GmbH successfully negotiated a license agreement between University Medical Center Göttingen (UMG) and the biotech company Tissue Systems Holding GmbH about commercial use of a multi-well tissue plate for automated and reliable tissue engineering & drug testing.

MBM ScienceBridge GmbH successfully negotiated a license agreement between University Medical Center Göttingen (UMG) and the biotech company Tissue Systems...

Im Focus: Silencing bacteria

HZI researchers pave the way for new agents that render hospital pathogens mute

Pathogenic bacteria are becoming resistant to common antibiotics to an ever increasing degree. One of the most difficult germs is Pseudomonas aeruginosa, a...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

“Lasers in Composites Symposium” in Aachen – from Science to Application

19.09.2017 | Event News

I-ESA 2018 – Call for Papers

12.09.2017 | Event News

EMBO at Basel Life, a new conference on current and emerging life science research

06.09.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Molecular Force Sensors

20.09.2017 | Life Sciences

Producing electricity during flight

20.09.2017 | Power and Electrical Engineering

Tiny lasers from a gallery of whispers

20.09.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>