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Loss of calcineurin leads to heart problems

19 February 2010 Email This Post Email This Post Print This Post Print This Post

Glowing heart in handsA research led by scientists from Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center and the Howard Hughes Medical Institute demonstrated that loss of the enzyme calcineurin leads to heart problems and even death in genetically modified mice.

“We found that when you eliminate calcineurin, a pool of genes that regulates calcium in the heart went awry. This leads to defects in the growth and proliferation of heart cells, heart disease, arrhythmia, loss of contractility and heart failure and disease,” said Dr. Marjorie Maillet, the study’s firrst author.

Calcineurin was previously known to be important to heart function but the study provided data for the first time to its importance in controlling normal development and function of heart cells. Heart arrhythmia, failure and death occurred in mice when there was an almost total absence of calcineurin in their body.

The research, although involved mice, could lead to new approaches in diagnosis and treatment of heart patiens. Also a new “feed-forward” mechanism has been identified which by directly activating calcineurin by calcium was able to augment the expression of genes that regulate calcium-handling proteins in the heart.

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