Missing enzyme protects mice from effects of heart attacks

April 6th, 2009 - 5:27 pm ICT by IANS  

Washington, April 6 (IANS) Mice born without a certain enzyme can resist the effects of a heart attack, still retaining near normal cardiac function, according to a study.
The scientists found that in mice, lacking the enzyme GNSOR (or S-nitrosoglutathione reductase), the blood was able to get around the blockage point that normally would cut off blood to the heart because of remarkable capillary growth in these animals.

“There were blood vessels everywhere in these mice born without the enzyme,” said Jonathan Stamler, a Duke University Medical Centre (DUMC) professor of medicine and biochemistry and study co-author.

The findings raise the possibility of a therapy that could stimulate the growth of blood vessels and limit damage from a heart attack as well as prevent an attack from occurring at all, the scientists said.

Normal mice (with the enzyme) in the same experiment had full heart attacks, suffering damage to their heart pumps and a lack of oxygen in their heart tissues, which are typical effects of a heart attack.

“The hope is that this discovery someday could result in a therapy for new blood vessel growth that could be a sort of natural bypass in humans. Perhaps it could also benefit patients with peripheral artery disease, who cannot walk, for example, but who might be able to grow new blood vessels in their legs,” said Stamler.

“Normally if you block the major artery to a heart, oxygen tension drops in the tissues - you can’t get oxygen to the tissues and they die,” Stamler said, according to a Duke release.

The study was published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences online.

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