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High blood pressure, low energy -- a recipe for heart failure
Date:8/13/2007

he hearts of hypertensive patients and administer drugs that would rev up energy-producing pathways such as those controlled by ERR alpha, according to Kelly. Kelly is also director of the Center for Cardiovascular Research and professor of medicine, of pediatrics and of molecular biology and pharmacology.

ERR alpha sits in the nucleus of cells and senses how much energy is needed. When a heart cell finds itself short on energy, say because it's being called on to contract harder or faster, its ERR is activated by an inducible co-activator called PGC-1, turning on genes that increase the heart's capacity to burn fats for fuel.

In mice that lacked ERR alpha and that were exposed to pressure overload, the researchers observed signs of early heart failure: the mouse hearts dilated and didn't contract effectively, the heart walls thinned, fibrous connective tissue accumulated and some heart cells died. They also saw that the hearts had depleted fuel reserves.

Kelly indicates that these studies show for the first time that changes in the ability of the heart to produce energy lead to heart failure in some cases. "ERR and some of its partners in the cell are a little like puppeteers controlling the expression of genes for energy production," Kelly says. "This research is especially exciting because ERR can be activated with small compounds, making it a good target for drugs."


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Contact: Gwen Ericson
ericsong@wustl.edu
314-286-0141
Washington University School of Medicine
Source:Eurekalert

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