Burmese python heart growth may benefit diseased human heart

Now, Burmese python’s heart may diseased human hearts, revealed by researchers from University of Alabama, USA. Three fatty acids involved in the extreme growth of Burmese pythons’ hearts following large meals could prove beneficial in treating diseased human hearts.

Growth of the human heart can be beneficial when resulting from exercise ? a type of growth known as physiological cardiac hypertrophy ? but damaging when triggered by disease ? growth known as pathological hypertrophy.

The new research shows a potential avenue by which to make the unhealthy heart growth more like the healthy version.

The research, conducted in collaboration with multiple researchers at the University of Colorado working in the lab of Dr. Leslie Leinwand, identified three fatty acids, myristic acid, palmitic acid and palmitoleic acid, for their roles in the snakes’ healthy heart growths following a meal.

Researchers took these fatty acids from feasting pythons and infused them into fasting pythons. Afterward, those fasting pythons underwent heart-rate growths similar to that of the feasting pythons. In a similar fashion, the researchers were able to induce comparable heart-rate growths in rats, indicating that the fatty acids have a similar effect on the mammalian heart.

The paper, whose lead author was Dr. Cecilia Riquelme of the University of Colorado, also showed that the pythons’ heart growth was a result of the individual heart cells growing in size, rather than multiplying in number.

By studying gene expression in the python hearts ? which genes are turned on following feasting ? the research, Secor said, shows that the changes the pythons’ hearts undergo is more like the positive changes seen in a marathon runner rather than the types of changes seen in a diseased, or genetically altered, heart.

“Cyclists, marathon runners, rowers, swimmers, they tend to have larger hearts,” Secor said. “It’s the heart working harder to move blood through it. The term is ‘volume overload,’ in reference to more blood being pumped to tissues. In response, the heart’s chambers get larger, and more blood is pushed out with every contraction, resulting in increased cardiac performance.”

“The python hearts are using the circulating lipids to fuel the increase in performance.”

Source: University of Alabama in Tuscaloosa, USA



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