Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Vitamin C transforms mouse stem cells into heart muscle cells

01.04.2003


Vitamin C helped convert mouse embryonic stem cells growing in the laboratory to heart muscle cells, researchers report today’s rapid track publication of Circulation: Journal of the American Heart Association.



Rapid track articles are released online early because they have major clinical impact or represent important basic science discoveries. This basic-research discovery could lead to future research on ways to treat people suffering from damaged heart muscle.

"Although the findings of this study are very preliminary with respect to their impact on human lives, this line of research has enormous implications for the future care of thousands of patients who develop heart failure each year," says Robert O. Bonow, M.D., president of the American Heart Association. "Identifying mechanisms to transform stem cells into differentiated heart muscle cells is an important step toward clinical reality."


Richard T. Lee, M.D., senior author of the study, says: "We have been taught for decades that when your heart cells are dead, they are dead and there is nothing we can do about it. We are excited about anything suggesting that we can grow more heart cells."

Lee and his colleagues tested 880 bioactive substances – including drugs and vitamins – approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to see if they stimulated the mouse stem cells to become heart muscle cells. The cells were genetically altered to give off a fluorescent bright green color when viewed under a microscrope if they had become heart muscle cells.

"We only got 1 out of the 880 to light up, and that was from ascorbic acid, the chemical commonly known as vitamin C," says Lee, an associate professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School and Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston, and a lecturer in biological engineering at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in Cambridge, Mass.

He stresses, however, that the finding is preliminary and it should not encourage people to take vitamin C hoping to strengthen or protect their hearts. "There is no clinical evidence that it would help," he says. The ability to grow or implant new heart muscle could save or improve the quality of life of countless people suffering from heart failure – the inability of a weakened heart to pump enough blood to supply the body. About 550,000 new cases and more than 51,500 heart-failure deaths occur each year in the United States as the result of a damaging heart attack, genetic disease, or other causes.

Embryonic stem cells are derived from the very early stages of fetal development and can become any type of cell in the body through a process called differentiation. Efforts to stimulate the differentiation of stem cells to specific types of cells have drawn growing research attention in recent years.

Working with a well-established line of mouse embryonic cells grown by first author Tomosaburo Takahashi, M.D., Ph.D., they placed about 2,000 stem cells each in tiny "wells" and treated each well with a different one of the FDA-approved compounds.

The stem cells had a gene inserted that would fluoresce bright green if the cell converted into the heart-muscle cell.

Beyond finding the green glow of the vitamin C-treated cells, the researchers detected several other important pieces of evidence that the stem cells had converted to heart muscle.

For example, they found that both cardiac myosin and actin (proteins involved in relaxing and contracting muscle) were present in the cells. They also detected three other heart-muscle genes that activated in proper sequence. The differentiated cells also beat spontaneously and rhythmically.

Vitamin C’s beneficial activity has been attributed to its ability to neutralize oxidants, which are damaging substances produced naturally by the body. However, other antioxidant compounds tested, including vitamin E, did not trigger the development of heart cells.

"This suggests that the effect of vitamin C on cardiac differentiation is independent of its antioxidant effect," Lee says.

He and his colleagues repeated their experiment many times, always with the same results. "The real significance of the study is that it indicates that we will be able to find other ways to generate heart cells from stem cells more efficiently," Lee says. "It also raises interesting questions about the role of vitamin C in the development of the embryo’s heart."

The team is investigating other so-called "chemical libraries" that contain far larger numbers of compounds than the group initially tested.

"A really big issue is going to be whether we can encourage the heart to fix itself, or whether we will need to implant cells of some sort," Lee says. "That is an important and unresolved question for this century, given the prevalence of heart failure."


###
Co-authors are P. Christian Schulze, M.D.; Bernadette Lord, B.S.; Ryan M. Fryer, Ph.D.; Satinder S. Sarang, Ph.D.; and Steven R. Gullans, Ph.D.

This research was partly funded by the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute.

Carole Bullock | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.americanheart.org/

More articles from Health and Medicine:

nachricht Finnish research group discovers a new immune system regulator
23.02.2018 | University of Turku

nachricht Minimising risks of transplants
22.02.2018 | Friedrich-Alexander-Universität Erlangen-Nürnberg

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: Attoseconds break into atomic interior

A newly developed laser technology has enabled physicists in the Laboratory for Attosecond Physics (jointly run by LMU Munich and the Max Planck Institute of Quantum Optics) to generate attosecond bursts of high-energy photons of unprecedented intensity. This has made it possible to observe the interaction of multiple photons in a single such pulse with electrons in the inner orbital shell of an atom.

In order to observe the ultrafast electron motion in the inner shells of atoms with short light pulses, the pulses must not only be ultrashort, but very...

Im Focus: Good vibrations feel the force

A group of researchers led by Andrea Cavalleri at the Max Planck Institute for Structure and Dynamics of Matter (MPSD) in Hamburg has demonstrated a new method enabling precise measurements of the interatomic forces that hold crystalline solids together. The paper Probing the Interatomic Potential of Solids by Strong-Field Nonlinear Phononics, published online in Nature, explains how a terahertz-frequency laser pulse can drive very large deformations of the crystal.

By measuring the highly unusual atomic trajectories under extreme electromagnetic transients, the MPSD group could reconstruct how rigid the atomic bonds are...

Im Focus: Developing reliable quantum computers

International research team makes important step on the path to solving certification problems

Quantum computers may one day solve algorithmic problems which even the biggest supercomputers today can’t manage. But how do you test a quantum computer to...

Im Focus: In best circles: First integrated circuit from self-assembled polymer

For the first time, a team of researchers at the Max-Planck Institute (MPI) for Polymer Research in Mainz, Germany, has succeeded in making an integrated circuit (IC) from just a monolayer of a semiconducting polymer via a bottom-up, self-assembly approach.

In the self-assembly process, the semiconducting polymer arranges itself into an ordered monolayer in a transistor. The transistors are binary switches used...

Im Focus: Demonstration of a single molecule piezoelectric effect

Breakthrough provides a new concept of the design of molecular motors, sensors and electricity generators at nanoscale

Researchers from the Institute of Organic Chemistry and Biochemistry of the CAS (IOCB Prague), Institute of Physics of the CAS (IP CAS) and Palacký University...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industry & Economy
Event News

2nd International Conference on High Temperature Shape Memory Alloys (HTSMAs)

15.02.2018 | Event News

Aachen DC Grid Summit 2018

13.02.2018 | Event News

How Global Climate Policy Can Learn from the Energy Transition

12.02.2018 | Event News

 
Latest News

Basque researchers turn light upside down

23.02.2018 | Physics and Astronomy

Finnish research group discovers a new immune system regulator

23.02.2018 | Health and Medicine

Attoseconds break into atomic interior

23.02.2018 | Physics and Astronomy

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>