HEALTH Science

Epigenetics plays key role in heart failure

Congestive heart failure can be attributed to epigenetic changes in the heart.

Epigenetic changes in the heart can lead to congestive heart failure, according to Science Daily. Congestive heart failure is a terminal disease that affects as many as 6 million Americans.

Unfortunately, its management is limited to symptomatic treatments because the causal mechanisms of congestive heart failure, including for its most common form, ischemic cardiomyopathy are not known. Ischemic cardiomyopathy is the result of restricted blood flow in coronary arteries, and It happens occurs during a heart attack, this starving the  the heart muscle of oxygen.

Researchers at the University of Alabama at Birmingham have now described the underlying mechanism that reprograms the hearts of patients with ischemic cardiomyopathy, a process that differs from patients with other forms of heart failure, collectively known as dilated (non-ischemic) cardiomyopathies. This actually leads the way toward future personalized care for ischemic cardiomyopathy.

This study used heart tissue samples collected at UAB during surgeries to implant small mechanical pumps alongside the hearts of patients with end-stage heart failure that assist in the pumping of blood. In what was a routine part of this procedure, a small piece of heart tissue was removed and discarded as medical waste. The research team then acquired these samples from the left ventricles of five ischemic cardiomyopathy patients and six non-ischemic cardiomyopathy patients, all men between ages 49 and 70.

The research team, led by Adam Wende, Ph.D., assistant professor in the UAB Department of Pathology, found that epigenetic changes in ischemic cardiomyopathy hearts likely reprogram the heart’s metabolism and alter cellular remodeling in the heart. Epigenetics is a field that describes molecular modifications known to alter the activity of genes without changing their DNA sequence.


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