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:4/5/2017)... 2017  The Allen Institute for Cell Science today ... one-of-a-kind portal and dynamic digital window into the human ... first application of deep learning to create predictive models ... and a growing suite of powerful tools. The Allen ... future publicly available resources created and shared by the ...
(Date:4/5/2017)... , April 4, 2017 KEY FINDINGS ... to expand at a CAGR of 25.76% during the ... is the primary factor for the growth of the ... MARKET INSIGHTS The global stem ... technology, application, and geography. The stem cell market of ...
(Date:4/3/2017)... 2017  Data captured by IsoCode, IsoPlexis ... a statistically significant association between the potency ... and objective response of cancer patients post-treatment. ... whether cancer patients will respond to CAR-T ... as to improve both pre-infusion potency testing and ...
Breaking Biology News(10 mins):
(Date:10/9/2017)... ... ... The award-winning American Farmer television series will feature 3 Bar Biologics in ... 8:30aET on RFD-TV. , With global population estimates nearing ten billion people by ... feed a growing nation. At the same time, many of our valuable resources are ...
(Date:10/9/2017)... Texas (PRWEB) , ... October ... ... study published on October 5, 2017, in the medical journal, Epilepsia, Brain ... with the gold standard, video EEG, in detecting generalized tonic-clonic seizures (GTCS) ...
(Date:10/7/2017)... , Oct. 6, 2017  The 2017 ... of three scientists, Jacques Dubochet, Joachim Frank ... developments in cryo-electron microscopy (cryo-EM) have ... within the structural biology community. The winners worked ... can now routinely produce highly resolved, three-dimensional images ...
(Date:10/5/2017)... ... October 05, 2017 , ... LabRoots , the ... from around the world, is giving back to cancer research with a month-long promotion ... , Now through October 31, shoppers can use promo code PinkRibbon to get 10 ...
Breaking Biology Technology: