Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Cellular source of most common type of abnormal heart beat described

Date:
November 13, 2009
Source:
University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine
Summary:
While studying how the heart is formed, scientists serendipitously found a novel cellular source of atrial fibrillation (AF), the most common type of abnormal heart beat. They identified a population of cells in the atria of the heart and pulmonary veins of humans and mice that appear to be the seat of AF. The finding may lead to a more precise way to treat AF, with reduced side effects.

Cardiac melanocyte-like cells in the mouse heart, identified by transgenic expression of a marker gene, are located in the region of the atria and the pulmonary veins and may serve as triggers for atrial arrhythmias.
Credit: Jon Epstein, MD, Vickas Patel, MD, PhD, University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine

While studying how the heart is formed, scientists at the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine serendipitously found a novel cellular source of atrial fibrillation (AF), the most common type of abnormal heart beat. Jonathan Epstein, MD, William Wikoff Smith Professor, and Chair, Department of Cell and Developmental Biology, and Vickas Patel, MD, PhD, Assistant Professor of Medicine, have identified a population of cells in the atria of the heart and pulmonary veins of humans and mice that appear to be the seat of AF. The finding may lead to a more precise way to treat AF, with reduced side effects.

This group of cells expresses the protein DCT, which is also involved in making the skin pigment melanin and in the detoxification of free radicals. The researchers also showed that the DCT-expressing cells in the mouse heart were a distinct cell type from heart-muscle cells and pigment-producing cells, although they conduct electrical currents important for coordinated contraction of the heart. The location of these cells in the pulmonary veins suggested their possible role in AF because AF can arise in these blood vessels. Atrial fibrillation is a very common and debilitating disease that greatly affects quality of life.

Knowing the location of these cells may help develop better treatments for AF. "We already target the pulmonary veins for radiofrequency ablation, a nonsurgical procedure using radiofrequency energy similar to microwaves, to treat some types of rapid heart beating as a relatively new treatment, and sometimes cure, for AF," notes Epstein.

"For the most part, current drug therapy for atrial fibrillation has been disappointingly ineffective and drug therapy is often associated with burdensome side-effects," notes Patel."

"If these cells are truly the source of AF in some patients, and we can figure out a way to identify them, then our ablation can be far more precise and targeted, thus limiting potential side effects, making the procedure potentially more simple and rapid, and hence more cost effective," explains Epstein.

But the investigators caution more research is needed to get to the point where these ideas can be validated in patients. "The findings hold out promise for a more precise cellular target for treating this common disorder," adds Epstein.

Their findings appear online in the Journal of Clinical Investigation. This research was funded by grants from the NIH, the Cotswold Foundation, the WW Smith Endowed Professorship, the W.W. Smith Chartiable Trust, and the Gunther Fund for Cardiovascular Research.


Story Source:

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


Cite This Page:

University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine. "Cellular source of most common type of abnormal heart beat described." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 13 November 2009. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/11/091104132817.htm>.
University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine. (2009, November 13). Cellular source of most common type of abnormal heart beat described. ScienceDaily. Retrieved April 16, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/11/091104132817.htm
University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine. "Cellular source of most common type of abnormal heart beat described." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/11/091104132817.htm (accessed April 16, 2014).

Share This



More Health & Medicine News

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Ebola Outbreak Now Linked To 121 Deaths

Ebola Outbreak Now Linked To 121 Deaths

Newsy (Apr. 15, 2014) The ebola virus outbreak in West Africa is now linked to 121 deaths. Health officials fear the virus will continue to spread in urban areas. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Cognitive Function: Is It All Downhill From Age 24?

Cognitive Function: Is It All Downhill From Age 24?

Newsy (Apr. 15, 2014) A new study out of Canada says cognitive motor performance begins deteriorating around age 24. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
How Mt. Everest Helped Scientists Research Diabetes

How Mt. Everest Helped Scientists Research Diabetes

Newsy (Apr. 15, 2014) British researchers were able to use Mount Everest's low altitudes to study insulin resistance. They hope to find ways to treat diabetes. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Carpenter's Injury Leads To Hundreds Of 3-D-Printed Hands

Carpenter's Injury Leads To Hundreds Of 3-D-Printed Hands

Newsy (Apr. 14, 2014) Richard van As lost all fingers on his right hand in a woodworking accident. Now, he's used the incident to create a prosthetic to help hundreds. 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