Major research results regarding the heart and heart disease
The heart is a pump vital to life. Its rhythmic contractions circulate fresh blood to the rest of the body throughout life. The University of Copenhagen conducts world class heart research. Landmark discoveries have been made of importance both to congenital heart malformations, heart rhythm disorders, and age-related heart conditions. The research is carried out in the overlaps between basic research at molecular and cellular level, clinical research on patients and register-based population studies
Worn-out cells increase the risk of heart attacks and premature death
All of the body's cells wear out with age, but also with lifestyle choices such as smoking and obesity. Researchers have long believed that worn out cells increase the risk of heart attacks and premature death. Two major Danish population studies have now proved that this is the case and provide doctors with a way to test a person's actual cellular age.
Weischer M, Bojesen SE, Cawthon RM, Freiberg JJ, Tybjærg-Hansen A, Nordestgaard BG (2012): Short Telomere Length, Myocardial Infarction, Ischemic Heart Disease, and Early Death. Arteriosclerosis, Thrombosis and Vascular Biology.
Importance of ion channels for cardiac functions
Researchers have found out that cardiac impulse is controlled by molecular pores in the cells of the heart muscle called ion channels. Genetic defects in these ion channels can cause the rhythm of the heart to be disturbed. A new chemical tool called pharmacological modulation forms the background for several scientific breakthroughs because it is the first time anyone has shown that pharmacological modulation of these types of ion channels can have a beneficial effect on diseases.
- Jepps T, Olesen SP, Greenwood I (2012): One man's side effect is another man's therapeutic opportunity : targeting Kv7 channels in smooth muscle disorders. British Journal of Pharmacology.
- Olesen MS, Jespersen T, Nielsen JB, Liang B, Møller DV, Hedley P, Christiansen M, Varro A, Olesen SP, Haunsø S, Schmitt N, Svendsen JH (2011): Mutations in sodium channel ß-subunit SCN3B are associated with early onset lone atrial fibrillation. Cardiovascular Research.
- Yang Y, Yang Y, Liang B, Liu J, Grunet M, Olesen SP, Rasmussen HR, Li J, Gao L, Lin X, Li L, Wang L, Xiao J, Liu Y, Liu Y, Zang S, Liang D, Peng L, Jespersen T, Chen YH (2010): Identification of a Kir3.4 Mutation in Congenital Long QT Syndrome. American Journal of Human Genetics.
Molecular communication network linking risk factors for congenital heart malformation
Congenital heart malformations are the most common form of congenital malformation at global level and this is due to defects in the molecular mechanisms that control the development of the heart during pregnancy. By combining genome research and systems biology with functional studies in cell models and zebra fish, a group of researchers is studying the genes and molecular signalling mechanisms that cause heart malformations. The group has identified a substantial part of the molecular communication networks, which control the development of the heart, and has shown that these complex networks are the biological common denominator that links together hundreds of risk factors for heart malformation. Research into these processes is of great importance for future diagnostics, prevention and treatment of congenital heart malformations. The new knowledge will improve the possibilities of treating myocardial infarction with stem cells.
- Lage K, Greenway S, Rosenfeld JA, Wakimoto H, Gorham JM, Segre A, Roberts AE, Smoot LB, Pu WT, Pereira AC, Mesquita SM, Tommerup N, Brunak S, Ballif BC, Schaffer L, Donahoe PK, Daly MJ, Seidman JG, Seidman CE and Larsen LA (2012): Genetic and environmental risk factors in congenital heart disease functionally converge in protein networks driving heart development. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS).
- Thienpont B, Zhang L, Postma AV, Breckpot J, Tranchevent L-C, Van Loo P, Møllgård K, Tommerup N, Bache I, Tümer Z, van Engelen K, Menten B, Mortier G, Waggoner D, Gewillig M, Moreau Y, Devriendt K and Larsen LA (2010): Haploinsufficiency of TAB2 causes congenital heart defects in humans. American Journal of Human Genetics.
- Lage K, Møllgård K, Greenway S, Wakimoto H, Gorham JM, Workman CT, Bendsen E, Hansen NT, Rigina O, Roque FS, Wiese C, Christoffels VM, Roberts AE, Smoot LB, Pu WT, Donahoe PK, Tommerup N, Brunak S, Seidman CE, Seidman JG and Larsen LA (2010): Dissecting spatio-temporal protein networks driving human heart development and related disorders. Molecular System Biologi.