Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Lighting Up The Heart

Date:
September 23, 2006
Source:
University of Bristol
Summary:
For the first time ever, researchers at the University of Bristol have been able to directly measure energy levels inside living heart cells, in real time, using the chemical that causes fireflies to light up.

Live and dead heart cells.
Credit: Elinor Griffiths

A major breakthrough in research could lead to improved recovery of the heart when it is re-started after a heart attack or cardiac surgery.

For the first time ever, researchers at the University of Bristol have been able to directly measure energy levels inside living heart cells, in real time, using the chemical that causes fireflies to light up.

Dr Elinor Griffiths said: "Being able to see exactly what's going on in heart cells will be of great benefit to understanding heart disease."

The research is published today (22nd September, 2006) in the Journal of Biological Chemistry.

The 'power stations' within heart cells that make energy are called mitochondria. They convert energy from food into chemical energy called adenosine triphosphate, or ATP.

Under normal conditions, mitochondria are able to make ATP extremely rapidly when the heart is stressed, such as during exercise or in "fight-or-flight" mode.

However, if the cells are made to beat suddenly from rest, a situation that happens when the heart is re-started after cardiac surgery or a heart attack, the team found there is a lag phase where the supply of ATP drops before mitochondrial production starts again, potentially preventing the heart from beating properly.

The researchers made use of a protein called luciferase, which is normally found in the tails of firefly and is what causes them to light up. Using molecular biological techniques, they transferred modified forms of the luciferase DNA into heart cells -- the cells could then make their own luciferase, and the modifications enabled the luciferase to be produced inside the mitochondria.

Since luciferase lights up in the presence of ATP, the amount of light, and hence the amount of ATP, could be detected using a microscope and a highly sensitive camera.

Dr Griffiths explained: "The breakthrough presented by this technique could be of benefit in heart diseases where mitochondria cannot make enough ATP. When that happens the heart does not have enough energy to perform its function of pumping blood efficiently which can result in a heart attack."

Exactly how mitochondria tailor the supply of ATP to demand is not fully known. Being able to directly measure ATP levels inside mitochondria of living heart cells in real time will go a long way towards understanding this more fully.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by University of Bristol. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

University of Bristol. "Lighting Up The Heart." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 23 September 2006. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2006/09/060922095235.htm>.
University of Bristol. (2006, September 23). Lighting Up The Heart. ScienceDaily. Retrieved August 31, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2006/09/060922095235.htm
University of Bristol. "Lighting Up The Heart." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2006/09/060922095235.htm (accessed August 31, 2014).

Share This




More Health & Medicine News

Sunday, August 31, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

We've Got Mites Living In Our Faces And So Do You

We've Got Mites Living In Our Faces And So Do You

Newsy (Aug. 30, 2014) A new study suggests 100 percent of adult humans (those over 18 years of age) have Demodex mites living in their faces. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Liberia Continues Fight Against Ebola

Liberia Continues Fight Against Ebola

AFP (Aug. 30, 2014) Authorities in Liberia try to stem the spread of the Ebola epidemic by raising awareness and setting up sanitation units for people to wash their hands. Duration: 00:41 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
California Passes 'yes-Means-Yes' Campus Sexual Assault Bill

California Passes 'yes-Means-Yes' Campus Sexual Assault Bill

Reuters - US Online Video (Aug. 30, 2014) California lawmakers pass a bill requiring universities to adopt "affirmative consent" language in their definitions of consensual sex, part of a nationwide drive to curb sexual assault on campuses. Linda So reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
3 Things To Know About The Ebola Outbreak's Progression

3 Things To Know About The Ebola Outbreak's Progression

Newsy (Aug. 29, 2014) Here are three things you need to know about the deadly Ebola outbreak's progression this week. Video provided by Newsy
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