Sunday, December 20, 2009

Link between Alzheimer’s and heart failure found





Researchers at Johns Hopkins University have reported evidence for a link between Alzheimer’s diseases and chronic heart failure, stemming from studies in animals and humans.
The team of scientists (more specifically biochemists and cardiologists) from the U.S., Canada, and Italty were led by the researchers from Johns Hopkins in a study that found three changes in the chemical make-up of a key structural protein. The protein, named desmin, was studied in the heart muscle cells of dogs. The build-up of harmful protein is a key in both Alzheimer’s disease and chronic heart failure.



Protein clusters, in regards to heart disease, come in the form of desmin amyloid proteins, very similar to the beta-amyloid plaques found in the brain of Alzheimer’s patients. Scientists believe that these plaques are responsible for the onset of Alzheimer’s disease. Now, the discovery of the altered desmin protein in heart muscle cells has linked chronic heart failure with Alzheimer’s disease through these misshapen lumps of protein.
In 2005, desmin proteins and amyloid-like debris were found in mice altered to develop chronic heart failure. However, until now, there was no link between the changes in desmin and the effect on organ function.
Now, the team of scientists and researchers have found results that detail the chemical changes of desmin, allowing them to study the link between the changes and malformations in the process of heart failure. The results aalso suggest that dangerous desmin-like amyloids may form in response to stress placed on the heart.
The study and analysis was presented the American Heart Association’s annual Scientific Sessions in Orlando, Florida. The new finding is big news for researchers of heart failure, as it helps them pinpoint the biological cause of heart disease, and whether it is an amyloid-related disease like Alzheimer’s.
Researchers are now planning to analyze each change in the chemical make-up of the desmin protein, in hopes of discovering the biological impact of each.

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