Just a handful of cells in the embryo are all that's needed to form the outer layer of pumping heart muscle in an adult zebrafish. Researchers at Duke University Medical Center used zebrafish embryos and careful employment of a new technique that allows for up to 90 color labels on different cells to track individual cells and cell lines as the heart formed. The scientists were surprised by how few cells went into making a critical organ structure and they suspect that other organs may form in a similar fashion, said Kenneth Poss, Ph.D., professor in the Duke Department of Cell Biology and Howard Hughes Medical Institute. The study appears online in Nature. "The most surprising aspect of this work is that a very small number of cardiomyocytes (heart muscle cells) in the growing animal can give rise to the thousands of cardiomyocytes that form the wall of the cardiac ventricle, " said Vikas Gupta, lead author, who is in the Duke Medical Scientist Training Program for M.
Over the past three decades, researchers have firmly established that the omega-3 fatty acids in fish oil, including eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), have healthy effects on the heart. Omega-3 fatty acids seem to help both in preventing cardiovascular disease as well as in preventing future heart attacks, strokes, and other adverse events in people who have established cardiovascular disease. These findings have been so strong that the American Heart Association now recommends eating fish or taking fish oil as a preventive measure both for healthy individuals and those with cardiovascular disease. However, the mechanism behind omega-3's healthy effects isn't yet known. In a new study, Zhaohui Gao, Robert P. Feehan, Lawrence I. Sinoway, and Kevin D. Monahan of the Penn State College of Medicine investigated whether part of omega-3's benefits might rely on improving cardiac diastolic function - the ability of the heart to relax and efficiently refill with blood at each beat, which declines with age.
Italian researchers report that severe fibrosis increases the early atherosclerosis risk in patients with genotype 1 chronic hepatitis C virus (HCV) infection. A second study found that fatty liver disease also increases risk of developing atherosclerosis at an earlier period. Both studies appear in the May issue of Hepatology, a journal published by Wiley-Blackwell on behalf of the American Association for the Study of Liver Diseases. In the first study, researchers led by Dr. Salvatore Petta from the Di.Bi.M.I.S. University of Palermo in Italy evaluated 174 patients with chronic HCV (genotype 1) along with 174 controls from an outpatient cardiology unit for signs of atherosclerosis. Ultrasonography was used to measure thickening of the carotid artery. Severity of fibrosis was determined for all HCV patients.
Humans are built to hunger for fat, packing it on during times of feast and burning it during periods of famine. But when deluged by foods rich in fat and sugar, the modern waistline often far exceeds the need to store energy for lean times, and the result has been an epidemic of diabetes, heart disease and other obesity-related problems. Now, scientists at the Salk Institute for Biological Studies have identified the linchpin of fat metabolism, a protein known as fibroblast growth factor 1 (FGF1), which may open new avenues in the treatment of diabetes. In a paper published in Nature, the Evans lab reports that FGF1 activity is triggered by a high-fat diet and that mice lacking the protein swiftly develop diabetes. This suggests that FGF1 is crucial to maintaining the body's sensitivity to insulin and normal levels of sugar in the blood.
Almost 2.7 million people in the UK suffer from coronary heart disease (CHD), which kills 88, 000 people every year, most of these being caused by heart attacks. Every year, about 124, 000 heart attacks occur in the UK. In an award-winning British Heart Foundation (BHF) research project, scientists from Edinburgh and Cambridge University have tested a new imaging method that could help improve how doctors predict a patient's risk of having a heart attack. The study, published in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology (JACC), is the first to demonstrate the potential of combining PET and CT scanning to capture images of the disease processes directly in the coronary arteries, which cause heart attacks. They measured the amount of calcified or hardened plaques in over 100 people's coronary arteries by using a CT calcium score, a standard test commonly used to predict the risk of CHD.