Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:


Scientists identify novel way to prevent cardiac fibrosis

In a study that points to a new strategy for preventing or possibly reversing fibrosis – the scarring that can lead to organ and tissue damage – researchers at the University of California, San Diego School of Medicine have determined that a molecule called Epac (Exchange protein activated by cAMP1), plays a key role in integrating the body’s pro- and anti-fibrotic response.

The research will be published in the online edition of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Science (PNAS) the week of April 21.

Inflammation is the body’s response to injury in tissues, prompting healing that leads to scars, whether on the skin, or in organs such as the heart, liver or lungs. Such scarring has beneficial properties, but there’s also the risk of excessive scarring, or tissue fibrosis, that can lead to organ damage and loss of function.

The UC San Diego researchers looked at cardiac fibrosis, which can occur in patients who have suffered an infection of the heart muscle or a heart attack. Such fibrosis causes the heart to stiffen so that it cannot adequately fill with blood and then empty itself, a condition known as diastolic dysfunction.

“An old heart is a stiff heart and some injured hearts are stiff as well,” said Paul A. Insel, M.D., UCSD professor of pharmacology and medicine, and principal investigator of the study. “Much of the decrease in cardiovascular function that occurs with aging or, in some patients after a heart attack, can be explained by fibrosis. We wondered: What is responsible for excessive fibrosis" Is there a way to decrease or possibly reverse it"”

It was previously known that a messenger molecule inside of cells, called cAMP, can block fibrosis in the heart. Insel and colleagues explored the mechanism leading to the anti-fibrotic effect, and discovered that the Epac molecule mediates cAMP actions that are involved in cardiac fibrosis. Epac also helps regulate other proteins that contribute to cell death, division, migration and motility.

“We found that Epac activation exerts a very important impact on the function of fibroblasts, the cells responsible for making and secreting collagen and thus for producing tissue fibrosis,” said Insel. “Most exciting was our discovery that multiple agents that promote fibrosis decrease the expression and activation of Epac in fibroblasts from several different tissues – not only in the heart but also in lung, liver and skin.”

The researchers found decreased Epac expression in regions near the site of heart attacks in rats and mice. In addition, they found that by increasing Epac expression, they were able to block the ability of agents to promote fibrosis.

Because increases in cAMP levels can decrease the function of fibroblasts after cell injury, stimulation of the cAMP signaling pathway is a potential way to blunt fibrosis. Increases in Epac expression may provide a novel way to do this, especially in cardiac fibroblasts, Insel added. To test this possibility, the scientists treated fibroblast cells in culture in ways that altered Epac expression, increasing Epac expression using an adenoviral construct.

“Using this strategy to overexpress Epac, we produced an anti-fibrotic effect, thereby inhibiting the synthesis of collagen” said Insel. “Other experiments showed that decreasing Epac expression favored fibrosis; in other words, were pro-fibrotic. Overall, the results show the central role of Epac in determining pro-fibrotic and anti-fibrotic response.”

Debra Kain | EurekAlert!
Further information:

More articles from Health and Medicine:

nachricht Advanced analysis of brain structure shape may track progression to Alzheimer's disease
26.10.2016 | Massachusetts General Hospital

nachricht Indian roadside refuse fires produce toxic rainbow
26.10.2016 | Duke University

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: Etching Microstructures with Lasers

Ultrafast lasers have introduced new possibilities in engraving ultrafine structures, and scientists are now also investigating how to use them to etch microstructures into thin glass. There are possible applications in analytics (lab on a chip) and especially in electronics and the consumer sector, where great interest has been shown.

This new method was born of a surprising phenomenon: irradiating glass in a particular way with an ultrafast laser has the effect of making the glass up to a...

Im Focus: Light-driven atomic rotations excite magnetic waves

Terahertz excitation of selected crystal vibrations leads to an effective magnetic field that drives coherent spin motion

Controlling functional properties by light is one of the grand goals in modern condensed matter physics and materials science. A new study now demonstrates how...

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...

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

How nanoscience will improve our health and lives in the coming years

27.10.2016 | Materials Sciences

OU-led team discovers rare, newborn tri-star system using ALMA

27.10.2016 | Physics and Astronomy

'Neighbor maps' reveal the genome's 3-D shape

27.10.2016 | Life Sciences

More VideoLinks >>>