Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

New action for ancient heart drug

Date:
June 14, 2012
Source:
University of Michigan Health System
Summary:
Researchers have revealed that digoxin, the active ingredient in the poisonous plant Foxglove, can enhance the body's own protective mechanism against high blood pressure and heart failure.

University of Michigan Health System study shows a drug used for centuries activates the body's own protective mechanisms in blood vessels.

Related Articles


An ancient heart drug that's inspired the work of herbalists and poets for centuries may treat a condition that plagues millions of overstressed and overweight Americans today.

Since the 13th century, the herb and poisonous plant Foxglove has been used to cleanse wounds and its dried leaves were carefully brewed by Native Americans to treat leg swelling caused by heart problems.

In an article published online June 14 in Molecular Pharmacology, researchers at the University of Michigan Health System reveal that digoxin, the active ingredient in digitalis, or the poisonous plant Foxglove, can enhance the body's own protective mechanism against high blood pressure and heart failure.

High blood pressure can be prevented by reducing salt intake, being active and keeping a healthy weight, but about 1 in 3 Americans has high blood pressure, also called hypertension, which can damage the body in many ways.

Most current treatments prevent excess hormone and stress signals that can lead to high blood pressure and heart failure.

But recent studies have found that the body has the ability to keep excess stimulation in check through production of a family of inhibitors called RGS proteins.

Researchers looked for ways to "re-purpose" old drugs to tap into this protective mechanism which is lost among some individuals with high blood pressure and heart failure.

"We tested several thousand known drugs and bioactive molecules for a potential role in enhancing RGS2 and/or RGS4 expression and function and have identified a novel mechanism for digoxin," says lead study author Benita Sjogren, Ph.D., a research fellow in the Department of Pharmacology at the University of Michigan.

Case histories collected by Dr. William Withering in 1775 determined that Foxglove contained the active ingredient, digoxin, now an important drug for treating patients with congestive heart failure.

This new action of digoxin was found by treating engineered human kidney cells with thousands of known drugs in a high-throughput screen at the U-M Center for Chemical Genomics. Digoxin was then shown to have similar actions in isolated mouse blood vessel cells.

"In addition to test tube studies, low dose digoxin, the active ingredient of digitalis, was able to increase RGS2 levels in the heart and kidney," says senior study author and pharmacologist Rick Neubig, M.D., Ph.D., professor of pharmacology, associate professor of internal medicine, and co-director of the Center for Chemical Genomics at the University of Michigan.

"This new action of digoxin could help explain the fact that low doses seem to improve the survival of heart failure patients. It also suggests new uses for low dose digoxin or other drugs that can activate this protective mechanism," he says.

Neubig's lab at the U-M focuses on the large family of RGS proteins and the role they play in the function of the brain, heart, immunity and cancer and how they can be exploited in therapeutics.


Story Source:

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


Journal Reference:

  1. B. Sjogren, S. Parra, L. J. Heath, K. B. Atkins, Z. Xie, R. Neubig. Cardiotonic Steroids Stabilize RGS2 Protein Levels. Molecular Pharmacology, 2012; DOI: 10.1124/mol.112.079293

Cite This Page:

University of Michigan Health System. "New action for ancient heart drug." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 14 June 2012. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/06/120614131101.htm>.
University of Michigan Health System. (2012, June 14). New action for ancient heart drug. ScienceDaily. Retrieved December 21, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/06/120614131101.htm
University of Michigan Health System. "New action for ancient heart drug." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/06/120614131101.htm (accessed December 21, 2014).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Health & Medicine News

Sunday, December 21, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

The Best Tips to Curb Holiday Carbs

The Best Tips to Curb Holiday Carbs

Buzz60 (Dec. 19, 2014) It's hard to resist those delicious but fattening carbs we all crave during the winter months, but there are some ways to stay satisfied without consuming the extra calories. Vanessa Freeman (@VanessaFreeTV) has the details. Video provided by Buzz60
Powered by NewsLook.com
Sierra Leone Bikers Spread the Message to Fight Ebola

Sierra Leone Bikers Spread the Message to Fight Ebola

AFP (Dec. 19, 2014) More than 100 motorcyclists hit the road to spread awareness messages about Ebola. Nearly 7,000 people have now died from the virus, almost all of them in west Africa, according to the World Health Organization. Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Researchers Test Colombian Village With High Alzheimer's Rates

Researchers Test Colombian Village With High Alzheimer's Rates

AFP (Dec. 19, 2014) In Yarumal, a village in N. Colombia, Alzheimer's has ravaged a disproportionately large number of families. A genetic "curse" that may pave the way for research on how to treat the disease that claims a new victim every four seconds. Duration: 02:42 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
The Best Protein-Filled Foods to Energize You for the New Year

The Best Protein-Filled Foods to Energize You for the New Year

Buzz60 (Dec. 19, 2014) The new year is coming and nothing will energize you more for 2015 than protein-filled foods. Fitness and nutrition expert John Basedow (@JohnBasedow) gives his favorite high protein foods that will help you build muscle, lose fat and have endless energy. Video provided by Buzz60
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:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Health & Medicine

Mind & Brain

Living & Well

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