Researchers found a reduction in levels of protein integrin β1D led to abnormal heart rhythms
Scientists have linked the loss of a particular protein to abnormal heart rhythms (arrhythmia), possibly leading to identifying a cause for sudden cardiac arrests.
Researchers in China and the United States compared cellular proteins from the hearts of four patients of Arrhythmogenic Right Ventricular Cardiomyopathy (AVRC) with those in healthy hearts, according to a study published in journal Circulation on March 3, 2020.
They found a significant reduction in the levels of integrin β1D — the protein in question — in the hearts of the patients. This reduction was not seen in the case of other heart diseases like ischemic heart disease and hypertrophic cardiomyopathy.
AVRC is rare genetic disease caused arrhythmias and was responsible for sudden deaths from cardiac arrests.
“We have identified a new pathway in heart cells that explains how arrhythmias occur in patients with ARVC,” said Long-Sheng Song, professor of internal medicine at the University of Iowa Carver College of Medicine.
His colleagues were from the UI and the Fuwai Hospital, Chinese Academy of Medical Sciences and Peking Union Medical College, Beijing.
The researchers then created genetically modified mice that lacked integrin β1D in their heart muscle cells.
Normal heart function was observed in the mice during rest. However, the mice were found to more likely develop arrhythmias under stress or exertion, according to the study.
Less integrin β1D did not control calcium levels — critical for maintaining regular heartbeats — in the mice, the study showed. Calcium control in the mice deteriorated during stress.
Integrin β1D also stabilised RyR2, another heart protein. Gene mutations that disrupt RyR2 cause conditions that lead to heart failure, according to the study.
Researchers thus noted the loss of integrin β1D as a possible cause of entricular arrhythmias in ARVC patients.
“Our findings suggest that preventing the loss of integrin β1D using existing or new drugs to inhibit this signaling pathway might provide a way to treat ARVC,” said Song.
Defibrillator devices and medication are currently used to treat ARVC, according to the study.
Every one in 1,000 and one in 1,250 people are affected by the heart disease. It is also the leading cause for sudden death among young athletes who previously never showed any symptoms of cardiovascular disease.
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