Through further testing, the researchers found that animal models suffering from heart failure and receiving a low fat diet were able to produce insulin and take up glucose from the blood, just as healthy hearts do.
However, the biological models with heart failure that were fed high-fat diets showed signs of insulin resistance, exhibited by a decreased amount of glucose taken up by the heart, as might be expected in a diabetic patient.
One of the main implications of these findings is that contrary to previously held beliefs, a state of insulin-resistance might actually be beneficial to a failing heart.
The hypothesis, according to Dr. Chandler, is that because the heart is being provided with excess amounts of fats, it is forced to utilize its preferred energy source. After suffering an injury that leads to failure, the heart cannot do this on its own, so the researchers have to manipulate its metabolism to use the energy source that maximizes or maintain its function as near to "normal" as possible.
"We want to provide an environment for the heart which allows it to be as effective and efficient a pump as possible, regardless of the damage it has undergone," Dr. Chandler says.
|Contact: Jessica Studeny|
Case Western Reserve University