Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

New Method Lets Researchers Study Heart Cell Communication

Date:
May 7, 2001
Source:
University Of North Carolina School Of Medicine
Summary:
Scientists at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill are using a new way to study how heart muscle cells communicate electrical and chemical messages. Researchers may use the new application to study what happens during or after a heart attack, when communication between cells breaks down.

CHAPEL HILL - Scientists at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill are using a new way to study how heart muscle cells communicate electrical and chemical messages. Researchers may use the new application to study what happens during or after a heart attack, when communication between cells breaks down.

Research Associate Barbara J. Muller-Borer, Ph.D., and her colleagues in the Division of Cardiology at UNC's Department of Medicine used a technique called fluorescence recovery after photobleaching, or FRAP, to study cell-to-cell communication through tiny tunnels between cells called gap junctions.

She will present the work at the North American Society of Pacing and Electrophysiology conference in Boston on May 4.

"You take a fluorescent probe, load it into your cells, and shine a laser pulse on some of them," Muller-Borer said. The laser makes the probe stop glowing, and the laser-zapped cells stop glowing.

As the fluorescent probe from surrounding cells diffuses in through gap junctions, fluorescence recovers and the zapped cells begin to glow again.

"The time it takes for the cell to recover fluorescence would be an indicator of how well the cells are coupled," or connected to each other, Muller-Borer said.

Coupling is important in heart muscle cells because the electrical signal that causes the heart to beat travels through them. If they become uncoupled, you're not going to get electrical conduction through that tissue, and the heart will stop beating, Muller-Borer explained. Heart muscle cells can become uncoupled when their oxygen supply is cut off, as happens during a heart attack.

Other researchers have used voltage-sensitive dyes to study the flow of electrical signals through heart tissue.

"The problem with some of those dyes is they're pretty toxic," Muller-Borer said. "So once you flash the cells with the laser, the dyes become toxic and the cells die. So you get one good study and then they're dead." FRAP allows researchers to study cells over longer periods of time, Muller-Borer said.

FRAP is an alternative method to study cell-to-cell communication. "The classic way to do these experiments is with electrical measurements," said Wayne Cascio, M.D., Associate Professor of Medicine at UNC's Division of Cardiology and one of the study's authors. "You inject a current into the muscle and you measure the voltage between two electrodes along the path of that current flow. Gap junctions affect that voltage."

But electrodes are not useful for studying how gap junctions work at the cellular level, Cascio said. "So this would provide a way to look at cell-to-cell communication at the level of single cells in cultures of heart cells.

"We're also interested in using FRAP to study how common diseases such as hypertension, ischemic heart disease and heart failure affect the formation and function of gap junctions," Cascio added. "The number and distribution of gap junctions are affected by these conditions and may contribute to some of the adverse consequences of these diseases. For this reason, we expect that the FRAP technique will further our understanding of how cell-to-cell communication contributes to heart problems."

This research was supported by a grant from the National Institutes of Health and the American Heart Association.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by University Of North Carolina School Of Medicine. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

University Of North Carolina School Of Medicine. "New Method Lets Researchers Study Heart Cell Communication." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 7 May 2001. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2001/05/010507082840.htm>.
University Of North Carolina School Of Medicine. (2001, May 7). New Method Lets Researchers Study Heart Cell Communication. ScienceDaily. Retrieved September 17, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2001/05/010507082840.htm
University Of North Carolina School Of Medicine. "New Method Lets Researchers Study Heart Cell Communication." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2001/05/010507082840.htm (accessed September 17, 2014).

Share This



More Health & Medicine News

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

President To Send 3,000 Military Personnel To Fight Ebola

President To Send 3,000 Military Personnel To Fight Ebola

Newsy (Sep. 16, 2014) President Obama is expected to send 3,000 troops to West Africa as part of the effort to contain Ebola's spread. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Obama Orders Military Response to Ebola

Obama Orders Military Response to Ebola

AP (Sep. 16, 2014) Calling the Ebola outbreak in West Africa a potential threat to global security, President Barack Obama is ordering 3,000 U.S. military personnel to the stricken region amid worries that the outbreak is spiraling out of control. (Sept. 16) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
UN: 20,000 Could Be Infected With Ebola by Year End

UN: 20,000 Could Be Infected With Ebola by Year End

AFP (Sep. 16, 2014) Nearly $1.0 billion dollars is needed to fight the Ebola outbreak raging in west Africa, the United Nations say, warning that 20,000 could be infected by year end. Duration: 00:40 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Obama: Ebola Outbreak Threat to Global Security

Obama: Ebola Outbreak Threat to Global Security

AP (Sep. 16, 2014) President Obama is ordering U.S. military personnel to West Africa to deal with the Ebola outbreak, which is he calls a potential threat to global security. (Sept. 16) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

    Technology News



    Save/Print:
    Share:

    Free Subscriptions


    Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

    Get Social & Mobile


    Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

    Have Feedback?


    Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
    Mobile: iPhone Android Web
    Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
    Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
    Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins