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Researchers identify new target for common heart condition
Date:1/8/2013

Researchers have found new evidence that metabolic stress can increase the onset of atrial arrhythmias, such as atrial fibrillation (AF), a common heart condition that causes an irregular and often abnormally fast heart rate. The findings may pave the way for the development of new therapies for the condition which can be expected to affect almost one in four of the UK population at some point in their lifetime.

The British Heart Foundation (BHF) study, led by University of Bristol scientists and published in Circulation: Arrhythmia and Electrophysiology, found that metabolic stress a condition induced by insufficient oxygen supply to the heart (e.g. following blockage of a coronary artery) caused marked changes in the electrical activity of the heart's atria (the upper chambers of the heart).

While it has been recognised for many years that metabolic stress causes ventricular arrhythmias abnormal heart rhythms that originate in the two lower chambers of the heart (the ventricles) and which form the basis to heart attacks it is the first time it has been demonstrated for arrhythmias in the atria.

The research team led by Dr Andrew James from the University's School of Physiology and Pharmacology together with Professor Saadeh Suleiman in the School of Clinical Sciences, examined the contribution of a particular kind of protein underlying the electrical activity of the atria during metabolic stress.

These proteins, known as KATP channels enable cells to respond to changes in metabolism. ATP (adenosine triphosphate) is a small molecule that represents the 'energy currency' for cell metabolism and when ATP levels inside cells fall, KATP channels are activated. For example, KATP channels in the pancreas are involved in the regulation of insulin secretion and drugs targeting these channels are used to treat type 2 diabetes mellitus.

Dr Andrew James, the study's lead author, said: "It is well-established that KAT
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Contact: Caroline Clancy
caroline.clancy@bristol.ac.uk
44-011-792-88086
University of Bristol
Source:Eurekalert

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