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Mitochondria send death signal to cardiac cells, study shows
Date:11/8/2007

COLUMBUS, Ohio Scientists have determined how cardiac cells die just as emergency treatments restore blood flow to a heart in distress, a paradox that has long puzzled doctors who are able to relieve pain in patients suffering from blocked arteries but can't stop the damage caused by the renewed rush of blood.

The discovery may lead to new ways to save that dying tissue.

It is the stoppage of blood flow and resulting loss of oxygen to the heart that causes chest pain during cardiac events. Clinicians' first order of business is restoring that flow with medicine or other noninvasive procedures, or even an invasive procedure, such as placement of a stent or balloon to open a blocked vessel.

But the rush of blood and the oxygen it carries that restores a heart's beat and relieves the pain can also damage tissue and weaken the heart's function because cardiac cells die in the process. And like brain cells, cardiac cells take a long time for the body to replace, so the damage is difficult to repair.

Researchers at Ohio State University Medical Center have traced this cell-death signal to the mitochondria, the principal energy source of cells, through a specialized technique. In experiments, cardiac cell mitochondria were isolated and subjected to ischemia and reperfusion the blockage and restart of blood flow. The researchers hope that identifying the origin of the cell-death signal will improve the chances of finding a way to stop the signal, reducing the damage associated with restored blood flow to the heart.

The results were published in the October issue of the Journal of Molecular and Cellular Cardiology.

This form of cardiac cell death is a major medical and health issue. The patient has severe pain from the loss of blood flow and oxygen to the heart, so we cannot do anything other than clear that artery to restore the blood and oxygen. But when that is done, the patient loses cardiac cells. It
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Contact: Emily Caldwell
emily.caldwell@osumc.edu
614-293-3737
Ohio State University
Source:Eurekalert

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