Navigation Links
A change of heart

San Diego, Calif. Beyond the personal tragedy of chronic alcoholism there is heartbreak in the biological sense, too. Scientists know severe alcoholism stresses the heart and that mitochondria, the cellular energy factories, are especially vulnerable to dysfunction. But they don't know the precise mechanism.

Now new experiments led by a team at the Wadsworth Center of the New York State Department of Health in Albany, and Thomas Jefferson University in Philadelphia, may provide insights into possible modes of heart damage from alcohol. The teams will present their findings at the 56th Annual Meeting of the Biophysical Society (BPS), held Feb. 25-29 in San Diego, Calif.

Using a technique called electron microscopic tomography, the Albany group produced the first 3D images of mitochondria and discovered tiny tethers linking mitochondria to another cell compartment, the endoplasmic reticulum (ER), where calcium is stored. A clue about the role of these tethers was provided by collaborative experiments with the Philadelphia group. Normally mitochondria take up very little calcium but, as mitochondria get closer to the ER, calcium uptake increases. Calcium overload damages mitochondria, shutting down energy production and leading to cell death.

The researchers looked at calcium regulation and cell structure in the pumping chambers of two groups of laboratory rats to find clues to how hearts are damaged by alcohol consumption. One group of rats was healthy and one was fed alcohol for six months.

The 3D images the team produced clearly show that the mitochondria of alcohol-fed rats are disorganized. The primary focus of the team's ongoing analysis is the mitochondrial interface with the ER in particular, characterization of the length, number, and distribution of tethers, which could explain the observed dysfunction of heart mitochondria.

"We're hoping our ongoing 3D analysis, coupled with the functional information provided by our colleagues at Thomas Jefferson, will help answer the question of how alcohol causes heart disease," says biophysicist and lead Albany researcher Carmen Mannella, Ph.D. "If we can understand how chronic alcoholism disrupts fundamental functions such as calcium signaling, then hopefully that information can be used to design preventive or corrective therapies to save hearts and lives of those suffering from the disease of alcoholism."

The presentation, "SR-Mitochondrial ultrastructure in the heart of normal and ethanol-fed rats," is at 4:45 p.m. on Tuesday, Feb. 28, 2012, in the San Diego Convention Center, Room 31ABC. ABSTRACT:


Contact: Ellen R. Weiss
American Institute of Physics

Related biology news :

1. Peat fires could accelerate climate change
2. As climate change increases forest fires, smoke forecasting could help protect public health
3. ChromaDex® Announces Management Changes
4. AAAS-SFU research: Chilling climate-change related news
5. AAAS-SFU research: Linking human evolution and climate change
6. Marine protected areas: changing climate could require change of plans
7. 4 new drugs will change prostate cancer care
8. Climate change threatens tropical birds
9. Time of year important in projections of climate change effects on ecosystems
10. Fish of Antarctica threatened by climate change
11. Detecting detrimental change in coral reefs
Post Your Comments:
(Date:11/20/2015)... , November 20, 2015 NXTD ... focused on the growing mobile commerce market and creator ... Gino Pereira , was recently interviewed on The ... air on this weekend on Bloomberg Europe , ... . --> NXTD ) ("NXT-ID" or the ...
(Date:11/19/2015)... Calif. , Nov. 19, 2015  Based on ... Frost & Sullivan recognizes BIO-key with the 2015 Global ... Each year, Frost & Sullivan presents this award to ... line catering to the needs of the market it ... product line meets and expands on customer base demands, ...
(Date:11/19/2015)... Nov. 19, 2015  Although some 350 companies are ... by a few companies, according to Kalorama Information. These include ... of the market share of the 6.1 billion-dollar molecular ... World Market for Molecular Diagnostic s .    ... is still controlled by one company and only a ...
Breaking Biology News(10 mins):
(Date:11/25/2015)... November 25, 2015 2 nouvelles études ... les différences entre les souches bactériennes retrouvées dans ... des êtres humains . Ces recherches  ouvrent une ... la prise en charge efficace de l,un des ... les chats .    --> 2 nouvelles ...
(Date:11/25/2015)... Studies reveal the differences in species of bacteria ... for more effective treatment for one of the most commonly ... --> --> Gum disease is one ... relatively little was understood about the bacteria associated with it ... researchers from the WALTHAM Centre for Pet Nutrition together with ...
(Date:11/25/2015)... HOLLISTON, Mass. , Nov. 25, 2015 ... a biotechnology company developing bioengineered organ implants for life-threatening ... will present at the LD Micro "Main Event" investor ... PT. The presentation will be webcast live and posted ... also be available at the conference for one-on-one meetings ...
(Date:11/25/2015)... DIEGO , Nov. 25, 2015  Neurocrine Biosciences, ... Kevin Gorman , President and CEO of Neurocrine Biosciences, ... Healthcare Conference in New York . ... to visit the website approximately 5 minutes prior to ... A replay of the presentation will be available on ...
Breaking Biology Technology: