Posts Tagged ‘Atrial fibrillation’

Prefacing the e-Book Epilogue: Metabolic Genomics and Pharmaceutics

Author and Curator: Larry H. Bernstein, MD, FCAP


Adieu, adieu, adieu …

Sound of Music

Snoopy - Charlie happiness

Snoopy – Charlie happiness

This work has been a coming to terms with my scientific and medical end of career balancing in a difficult time after retiring, but it has been rewarding.  In the clinical laboratories, radiology, anesthesiology, and in pharmacy, there has been some significant progress in support of surgical, gynecological, developmental, medical practices, and even neuroscience directed disciplines, as well as epidemiology over a period of half a century.  Even then, cancer and neurological diseases have been most difficult because the scientific basic research has either not yet uncovered a framework, or because that framework has proved to be multidimensional.  In the clinical laboratory sciences, there has been enormous progress in instrumental analysis, with the recent opening of molecular methods not yet prepared for routine clinical use, which will be a very great challenge to the profession, which has seen the development of large sample volume, multianalite, high-throughput, low-cost support emerging for decades.  The capabilities now underway will also enrrich the the capabilities of the anatomic pathology suite and the capabilities of 3-dimensional radiological examination.  In both pathology and radiology, we have seen the division of the fields into major subspecialties.  The development of the electronic health record had to take lessons from the first developments in the separate developments of laboratory, radiology, and pharmacy health record systems, to which were added, full cardiology monitoring systems.  These have been unintegrated.  This made it difficult to bring forth a suitable patient health record because the information needed to support decision-making by practitioners was in separate “silos”.  The mathematical methods that are being applied to the -OMICS sciences, can be brought to bear on the simplification and amplification of the clinicians’ ability to make decisions with near “errorless” discrimination, still allowing for an element of “art” in carrying out the history, physical examination, and knowledge unique to every patient.

We are at this time opening a very large, complex, study of biology in relationship to the human condition.  This will require sufficient resources to be invested in the development of these for a better society, which I suspect, will go on beyond the life of my grandchildren.  Hopefully, the long-term dangers of climate change will be controlled in that time.  As a society, or as a group of interdependent societies, we have no long term interest in continuing self-destructive behaviors that have predominated in the history of mankind.  I now top off these discussions with some further elucidation of what lies before us.

Metabolomics and systems pharmacology: why and how to model the human metabolic network for drug discovery

Douglas B. Kell and Royston Goodacre
School of Chemistry and Manchester Institute of Biotechnology, The University of Manchester, Manchester, UK
Drug Discovery Today Feb 2014;19(2)

Metabolism represents the ‘sharp end’ of systems biology,

  • because changes in metabolite concentrations
  • are necessarily amplified relative to
  • changes in the transcriptome, proteome and enzyme activities,
  • which can be modulated by drugs.

To understand such behaviour, we therefore need
(and increasingly have)

  • reliable consensus (community) models of the human metabolic network
  • that include the important transporters.

Small molecule ‘drug’ transporters are in fact metabolite transporters,

  • because drugs bear structural similarities to metabolites known
  • from the network reconstructions and from measurements of the metabolome.

Recon2 represents the present state-of-the-art human metabolic
network reconstruction; it can predict inter alia:

  1. the effects of inborn errors of metabolism;
  2. which metabolites are exometabolites, and
  3. how metabolism varies between tissues and cellular compartments.

Even these qualitative network models are not yet complete. As our
understanding improves so do we recognize more clearly the need for a systems (poly)pharmacology.

Modelling biochemical networks – why we do so
There are at least four types of reasons as to why one would wish to model a biochemical network:

  1. Assessing whether the model is accurate, in the sense that it
    reflects – or can be made to reflect – known experimental facts.
  2. Establishing what changes in the model would improve the
    consistency of its behaviour with experimental observations
    and improved predictability, such as with respect to metabolite
    concentrations or fluxes.
  3. Analyzing the model, typically by some form of sensitivity
    analysis, to understand which parts of the system contribute
    most to some desired functional properties of interest.
  4. Hypothesis generation and testing, enabling one to analyse
    rapidly the effects of manipulating experimental conditions in
    the model without having to perform complex and costly
    experiments (or to restrict the number that are performed).

In particular, it is normally considerably cheaper to perform
studies of metabolic networks in silico before trying a smaller
number of possibilities experimentally; indeed for combinatorial
reasons it is often the only approach possible. Although
our focus here is on drug discovery, similar principles apply to the
modification of biochemical networks for purposes of ‘industrial’
or ‘white’ biotechnology.
Why we choose to model metabolic networks more than

  • transcriptomic or proteomic networks

comes from the recognition – made particularly clear

  • by workers in the field of metabolic control analysis

– that, although changes in the activities of individual enzymes tend to have

  • rather small effects on metabolic fluxes,
  • they can and do have very large effects on metabolite concentrations (i.e. the metabolome).

Modelling biochemical networks – how we do so

Although one could seek to understand the

  1. time-dependent spatial distribution of signalling and metabolic substances within indivi
    dual cellular compartments and
  2. while spatially discriminating analytical methods such as Raman spectroscopy and
    mass spectrometry do exist for the analysis of drugs in situ,
  • the commonest type of modelling, as in the spread of substances in
  • assumes ‘fully mixed’ compartments and thus ‘pools’ of metabolites.

Although an approximation, this ‘bulk’ modelling will be necessary for complex ecosystems such as humans where, in addition to the need for tissue- and cell-specific models, microbial communities inhabit this superorganism and the
gut serves as a source for nutrients courtesy of these symbionts.

Topology and stoichiometry of metabolic networks as major constraints on fluxes
Given their topology, which admits a wide range of parameters for
delivering the same output effects and thereby reflects biological

  • metabolic networks have two especially important constraints that assist their accurate modelling:

(i) the conservation of mass and charge, and
(ii) stoichiometric and thermodynamic constraints.

These are tighter constraints than apply to signalling networks.

New developments in modelling the human metabolic network
Since 2007, several groups have been developing improved but nonidentical models of the human metabolic network at a generalised level and in tissue-specific forms. Following a similar community-driven strategy in Saccharomyces cerevisiae, surprisingly similar to humans, and in Salmonella typhimurium,

we focus in particular on a recent consensus paper that provides a highly curated and semantically annotated model of the human metabolic network, termed

In this work, a substantial number of the major groups active in this area came together to provide a carefully and manually constructed/curated network, consisting of some 1789 enzyme-encoding genes, 7440 reactions and 2626 unique metabolites distributed over eight cellular compartments.  A variety of dead-end metabolites and blocked reactions remain (essentially orphans and widows). But Recon2 was able to

  • account for some 235 inborn errors of metabolism,
  • a variety of metabolic ‘tasks’ (defined as a non-zero flux through a reaction or through a pathway leading to the production of a metabolite Q from a metabolite P).
  • filtering based on expression profiling allowed the construction of 65 cell-type-specific models.
  • Excreted or exometabolites are an interesting set of metabolites,
  • and Recon2 could predict successfully a substantial fraction of those

Role of transporters in metabolic fluxes

The uptake and excretion of metabolites between cells and their macrocompartments

  • requires specific transporters and in the order of one third of ‘metabolic’ enzymes,
  • and indeed of membrane proteins, are in fact transporters or equivalent.

What is of particular interest (to drug discovery), based on their structural similarities, is the increasing recognition (Fig. 3) that pharmaceutical drugs also

  • get into and out of cells by ‘hitchhiking’ on such transporters, and not –

to any significant extent –

  • by passing through phospholipid bilayer portions
    of cellular membranes.

This makes drug discovery even more a problem of systems biology than of biophysics.

role of solute carriers and other transporters in cellular drug uptake

role of solute carriers and other transporters in cellular drug uptake

Two views of the role of solute carriers and other transporters in cellular drug uptake. (a) A more traditional view in which all so-called ‘passive’drug uptake occurs through any unperturbed bilayer portion of membrane that might be present.
(b) A view in which the overwhelming fraction of drug is taken up via solute transporters or other carriers that are normally used for the uptake of intermediary metabolites. Noting that the protein:lipid ratio of biomembranes is typically 3:1 to 1:1 and that proteins vary in mass and density (a typical density is 1.37 g/ml) as does their extension, for example, normal to the ca. 4.5 nm lipid bilayer region, the figure attempts to portray a section of a membrane with realistic or typical sizes and amounts of proteins and lipids. Typical protein areas when viewed normal to the membrane are 30%, membranes are rather more ‘mosaic’ than ‘fluid’ and there is some evidence that there might be no genuinely ‘free’ bulk lipids (typical phospholipid masses are 750 Da) in biomembranes that are uninfluenced by proteins. Also shown is a typical drug: atorvastatin (LipitorW) – with a molecular mass of 558.64 Da – for size comparison purposes. If proteins are modelled as
cylinders, a cylinder with a diameter of 3.6 nm and a length of 6 nm has a molecular mass of ca. 50 kDa. Note of course that in a ‘static’ picture we cannot show the dynamics of either phospholipid chains or lipid or protein diffusion.

‘Newly discovered’ metabolites and/or their roles

To illustrate the ‘unfinished’ nature even of Recon2, which concentrates on the metabolites created via enzymes encoded in the human genome, and leaving aside the more exotic metabolites of drugs and foodstuffs and the ‘secondary’ metabolites of microorganisms, there are several examples of interesting ‘new’ (i.e. more or less recently recognised) human metabolites or roles thereof that are worth highlighting, often from studies seeking biomarkers of various diseases – for caveats of biomarker discovery, which is not a topic that we are covering here, and the need for appropriate experimental design. In addition, classes of metabolites not well represented in Recon2 are oxidised molecules such as those caused by nonenzymatic reaction of metabolites with free radicals such as the hydroxyl radical generated by unliganded iron. There is also significant interest in using methods of determining small molecules such as those in the
metabolome (inter alia) for assessing the ‘exposome’, in other words all the potentially polluting agents to which an
individual has been exposed.

Recently discovered effects of metabolites on enzymes 

Another combinatorial problem reflects the fact that in molecular enzymology it is not normally realistic to assess every possible metabolite to determine whether it is an effector (i.e.activator or inhibitor) of the enzyme under study. Typical proteins are highly promiscuous and there is increasing evidence for the comparative promiscuity of metabolites
and pharmaceutical drugs. Certainly the contribution of individual small effects of multiple parameter changes can have substantial effects on the potential flux through an overall pathway, which makes ‘bottom up’ modelling an inexact science. Even merely mimicking the vivo (in Escherichia coli) concentrations of K+, Na+, Mg2+, phosphate, glutamate, sulphate and Cl significantly modulated the activities of several enzymes tested relative to the ‘usual’ assay conditions. Consequently, we need to be alive to the possibility of many (potentially major) interactions of which we are as yet ignorant. One class of example relates to the effects of the very widespread post-translational modification on metabolic
enzyme activities.

A recent and important discovery (Fig. 4) is that a single transcriptome experiment, serving as a surrogate for fluxes through individual steps, provides a huge constraint on possible models, and predicts in a numerically tractable way and
with much improved accuracy the fluxes to exometabolites without the need for such a variable ‘biomass’ term. Other recent and related strategies that exploit modern advances in ‘omics and network biology to limit the search space in constraint-based metabolic modelling.

Fig 4. Workflow for expression-profile-constrained metabolic flux estimation

  1. Genome-scale metabolic model with gene-protein-reaction relationships
  2. Map absolute gene expression levels to reactions
  3. Maximise correlation between absolute gene expression and metabolic flux
  4. Predict fluxes to exometabolites
  5. Compare predicted with experimental fluxes to exometabolites

Drug Discovery Today

The steps in a workflow that uses constraints based on (i) metabolic network stoichiometry and chemical reaction properties (both encoded in the model) plus, and (ii) absolute (RNA-Seq) transcript expression profiles to enable the
accurate modelling of pathway and exometabolite fluxes. .

Concluding remarks – the role of metabolomics in systems pharmacology

What is becoming increasingly clear, as we recognize that to understand living organisms in health and disease we must treat them as systems, is that we must bring together our knowledge of the topologies and kinetics of metabolic networks with our knowledge of the metabolite concentrations (i.e. metabolomes) and fluxes. Because of the huge constraints imposed on metabolism by reaction stoichiometries, mass conservation and thermodynamics, comparatively few well-chosen ‘omics measurements might be needed to do this reliably (Fig. 4). Indeed, a similar approach exploiting constraints has come to the fore in denovo protein folding and interaction studies.

What this leads us to in drug discovery is the need to develop and exploit a ‘systems pharmacology’ where multiple binding targets are chosen purposely and simultaneously. Along with other measures such as phenotypic screening, and the integrating of the full suite of e-science approaches, one can anticipate considerable improvements in the rate of discovery of safe and effective drugs.

Metabolomics: the apogee of the omics trilogy
Gary J.!Patti, Oscar Yanes and Gary Siuzdak

Metabolites, the chemical entities that are transformed during metabolism, provide a functional readout of cellular biochemistry. With emerging technologies in mass spectrometry, thousands of metabolites can now be
quantitatively measured from minimal amounts of biological material, which has thereby enabled systems-level analyses. By performing global metabolite profiling, also known as untargeted metabolomics, new discoveries linking cellular pathways to biological mechanism are being revealed and are shaping our understanding of cell biology, physiology and medicine.

Metabolites are small molecules that are chemically transformed during metabolism and, as such, they provide a functional readout of cellular state. Unlike genes and proteins, the functions of which are subject to epigenetic regulation and posttranslational modifications, respectively, metabolites serve as direct signatures of biochemical activity and are therefore easier to correlate with phenotype. In this context, metabolite profiling, or metabolomics, has become a powerful approach that has been widely adopted for clinical diagnostics.

The field of metabolomics has made remarkable progress within the past decade and has implemented new tools that have offered mechanistic insights by allowing for the correlation of biochemical changes with phenotype.

In this Innovation article, we first define and differentiate between the targeted and untargeted approaches to metabolomics. We then highlight the value of untargeted metabolomics in particular and outline a guide to performing such studies. Finally, we describe selected applications of un targeted metabolomics and discuss their potential in cell biology.

  • metabolites serve as direct signatures of biochemical activity
  1. In some instances, it may be of interest to examine a defined set of metabolites by using a targeted approach.
  2. In other cases, an untargeted or global approach may be taken in which as many metabolites as possible are measured and compared between samples without bias.
  3. Ultimately, the number and chemical composition of metabolites to be studied is a defining attribute of any metabolomic experiment and shapes experimental design with respect to sample preparation and choice of instrumentation.

The targeted and untargeted workflow for LC/MS-based metabolomics.

a | In the triple quadrupole (QqQ)-based targeted metabolomic workflow, standard compounds for the metabolites of interest are first used to set up selected reaction monitoring methods. Here, optimal instrument voltages are determined and response curves are generated for absolute quantification. After the targeted methods have been established
on the basis of standard metabolites, metabolites are extracted from tissues, biofluids or cell cultures and analysed. The data output provides quantification only of those metabolites for which standard methods have been built.

b | In the untargeted metabolomic workflow, metabolites are first isolated from biological samples and subsequently analysed by liquid chromatography followed by mass spectrometry (LC/MS). After data acquisition, the results are processed by using bioinformatic software such as XCMS to perform nonlinear retention time alignment and identify peaks that are changing between the groups of samples measured. The m/z value s for the peaks of interest are searched in metabolite databases to obtain putative identifications. Putative identifications are then confirmed
by comparing tandem mass spectrometry (MS/MS) data and retention time data to that of standard compounds. The untargeted workflow is global in scope and outputs data related to comprehensive cellular metabolism.

Metabolic Biomarker and Kinase Drug Target Discovery in Cancer Using Stable Isotope-Based Dynamic Metabolic Profiling (SIDMAP)

László G. Boros1*, Daniel J. Brackett2 and George G. Harrigan3
1UCLA School of Medicine, Harbor-UCLA Research and Education Institute, Torrance, CA. 2Department of Surgery, University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center & VA Medical Center, Oklahoma City, OK, 3Global High Throughput
Screening (HTS), Pharmacia Corporation, Chesterfield, MO.
Current Cancer Drug Targets, 2003, 3, 447-455.

Tumor cells respond to growth signals by the activation of protein kinases, altered gene expression and significant modifications in substrate flow and redistribution among biosynthetic pathways. This results in a proliferating phenotype
with altered cellular function. These transformed cells exhibit unique anabolic characteristics, which includes increased and preferential utilization of glucose through the non-oxidative steps of the pentose cycle for nucleic acid synthesis but limited denovo fatty acid synthesis and TCA cycle glucose oxidation. This primarily nonoxidative anabolic profile reflects an undifferentiated highly proliferative aneuploid cell phenotype and serves as a reliable metabolic biomarker to determine cell proliferation rate and the level of cell transformation/differentiation in response to drug treatment. Novel drugs effective in particular cancers exert their anti-proliferative effects by inducing significant reversions of a few specific non-oxidative anabolic pathways. Here we present evidence that cell transformation of various mechanisms is sustained by a unique
disproportional substrate distribution between the two branches of the pentose cycle for nucleic acid synthesis, glycolysis and the TCA cycle for fatty acid synthesis and glucose oxidation. This can be demonstrated by the broad labeling and unique specificity of [1,2-13C2]glucose to trace a large number of metabolites in the metabolome. Stable isotope-based dynamic metabolic profiles (SIDMAP) serve the drug discovery process by providing a powerful new tool that integrates the metabolome into a functional genomics approach to developing new drugs. It can be used in screening kinases and their metabolic targets, which can therefore be more efficiently characterized, speeding up and improving drug testing, approval and labeling processes by saving trial and error type study costs in drug testing.

Navigating the HumanMetabolome for Biomarker Identification and Design of Pharmaceutical Molecules

Irene Kouskoumvekaki and Gianni Panagiotou
Department of Systems Biology, Center for Biological Sequence Analysis, Building 208, Technical University of Denmark, Lyngby, Denmark
Hindawi Publishing Corporation  Journal of Biomedicine and Biotechnology 2011, Article ID 525497, 19 pages

Metabolomics is a rapidly evolving discipline that involves the systematic study of endogenous small molecules that characterize the metabolic pathways of biological systems. The study of metabolism at a global level has the potential to contribute significantly to biomedical research, clinical medical practice, as well as drug discovery. In this paper, we present the most up-to-date metabolite and metabolic pathway resources, and we summarize the statistical, and machine-learning tools used for the analysis of data from clinical metabolomics.

Through specific applications on cancer, diabetes, neurological and other diseases, we demonstrate how these tools can facilitate diagnosis and identification of potential biomarkers for use within disease diagnosis. Additionally, we
discuss the increasing importance of the integration of metabolomics data in drug discovery. On a case-study based on the Human Metabolome Database (HMDB) and the Chinese Natural Product Database (CNPD), we demonstrate the close relatedness of the two data sets of compounds, and we further illustrate how structural similarity with human metabolites could assist in the design of novel pharmaceuticals and the elucidation of the molecular mechanisms of medicinal plants.

Metabolites are the byproducts of metabolism, which is itself the process of converting food energy to mechanical energy
or heat. Experts believe there are at least 3,000 metabolites that are essential for normal growth and development (primary metabolites) and thousands more unidentified (around 20,000, compared to an estimated 30,000 genes and 100,000 proteins) that are not essential for growth and development (secondary metabolites) but could represent prognostic, diagnostic, and surrogate markers for a disease state and a deeper understanding of mechanisms of disease.

Metabolomics, the study of metabolism at the global level, has the potential to contribute significantly to biomedical
research, and ultimately to clinical medical practice. It is a close counterpart to the genome, the transcriptome and the proteome. Metabolomics, genomics, proteomics, and other “-omics” grew out of the Human Genome Project, a massive research effort that began in the mid-1990s and culminated in 2003 with a complete mapping of all the genes in the human body. When discussing the clinical advantages of metabolomics, scientists point to the “real-world” assessment
of patient physiology that the metabolome provides since it can be regarded as the end-point of the “-omics” cascade. Other functional genomics technologies do not necessarily predict drug effects, toxicological response, or disease states at the phenotype but merely indicate the potential cause for phenotypical response. Metabolomics can bridge this information gap. The identification and measurement of metabolite profile dynamics of host changes provides the closest link to the various phenotypic responses. Thus it is clear that the global mapping of metabolic signatures pre- and postdrug treatment is a promising approach to identify possible functional relationships between medication and medical phenotype.

Human Metabolome Database (HMDB). Focusing on quantitative, analytic, or molecular scale information about
metabolites, the enzymes and transporters associated with them, as well as disease related properties the HMDB represents the most complete bioinformatics and chemoinformatics medical information database. It contains records for
thousands of endogenous metabolites identified by literature surveys (PubMed, OMIM, OMMBID, text books), data
mining (KEGG, Metlin, BioCyc) or experimental analyses performed on urine, blood, and cerebrospinal fluid samples.
The annotation effort is aided by chemical parameter calculators and protein annotation tools originally developed for

A key feature that distinguishes the HMDB from other metabolic resources is its extensive support for higher level database searching and selecting functions. More than 175 hand-drawn-zoomable, fully hyperlinked human
metabolic pathway maps can be found in HMDB and all these maps are quite specific to human metabolism and
explicitly show the subcellular compartments where specific reactions are known to take place. As an equivalent to
BLAST the HMDB contains a structure similarity search tool for chemical structures and users may sketch or
paste a SMILES string of a query compound into the Chem-Query window. Submitting the query launches a
structure similarity search tool that looks for common substructures from the query compound that match the
HMDB’s metabolite database. The wealth of information and especially the extensive linkage to metabolic diseases
to normal and abnormal metabolite concentration ranges, to mutation/SNP data and to the genes, enzymes, reactions
and pathways associated with many diseases of interest makes the HMDB one the most valuable tool in the hands
of clinical chemists, nutritionists, physicians and medical geneticists.

Metabolomics in Drug Discovery and Polypharmacology Studies

Drug molecules generally act on specific targets at the cellular level, and upon binding to the receptors, they exert
a desirable alteration of the cellular activities, regarded as the pharmaceutical effect. Current drug discovery depends
largely on ransom screening, either high-throughput screening (HTS) in vitro, or virtual screening (VS) in silico. Because
the number of available compounds is huge, several druglikeness filters are proposed to reduce the number of compounds that need to be evaluated. The ability to effectively predict if a chemical compound is “drug-like” or “nondruglike” is, thus, a valuable tool in the design, optimization, and selection of drug candidates for development. Druglikeness is a general descriptor of the potential of a small molecule to become a drug. It is not a unified descriptor
but a global property of a compound processing many specific characteristics such as good solubility, membrane
permeability, half-life, and having a pharmacophore pattern to interact specifically with a target protein. These
characteristics can be reflected as molecular descriptors such as molecular weight, log P, the number of hydrogen bond
donors, the number of hydrogen-bond acceptors, the number of rotatable bonds, the number of rigid bonds, the
number of rings in a molecule, and so forth.

Metabolomics for the Study of Polypharmacology of Natural Compounds

Internationally, there is a growing and sustained interest from both pharmaceutical companies and public in medicine
from natural sources. For the public, natural medicine represent a holistic approach to disease treatment, with
potentially less side effects than conventional medicine. For the pharmaceutical companies, bioactive natural products
constitute attractive drug leads, as they have been optimized in a long-term natural selection process for optimal interaction with biomolecules. To promote the ecological survival of plants, structures of secondary products have evolved to interact with molecular targets affecting the cells, tissues and physiological functions in competing microorganisms,
plants, and animals. In this, respect, some plant secondary products may exert their action by resembling endogenous
metabolites, ligands, hormones, signal transduction molecules, or neurotransmitters and thus have beneficial
effects on humans.

Future Perspectives

Metabolomics, the study of metabolism at the global level, is moving to exciting directions.With the development ofmore
sensitive and advanced instrumentation and computational tools for data interpretation in the physiological context,
metabolomics have the potential to impact our understanding of molecular mechanisms of diseases. A state-of-theart
metabolomics study requires knowledge in many areas and especially at the interface of chemistry, biology, and
computer science. High-quality samples, improvements in automated metabolite identification, complete coverage of
the human metabolome, establishment of spectral databases of metabolites and associated biochemical identities, innovative experimental designs to best address a hypothesis, as well as novel computational tools to handle metabolomics data are critical hurdles that must be overcome to drive the inclusion of metabolomics in all steps of drug discovery and drug development. The examples presented above demonstrated that metabolite profiles reflect both environmental and genetic influences in patients and reveal new links between metabolites and diseases providing needed prognostic,diagnostic, and surrogate biomarkers. The integration of these signatures with other omic technologies is of utmost importance to characterize the entire spectrum of malignant phenotype.


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Larry H Bernstein, MD, FCAP, Curator

Leaders in Pharmaceutical Intelligence



Association of heart rate variability and inflammatory response in patients with cardiovascular diseases: current strengths and limitations
V Papaioannou, I Pneumatikos and N Maglaveras
Front Phys 2013.

A few clinical studies have assessed the possible inter-relation between neuro-autonomic output, estimated with heart rate variability analysis, which is the variability of R-R in the electrocardiogram, and different inflammatory biomarkers, in patients suffering from stable or unstable coronary artery disease (CAD) and heart failure. Moreover, different indices derived from heart rate signals’ processing, have been proven to correlate strongly with severity of heart disease and predict final outcome. In this review article we will summarize major findings from different investigators, evaluating neuro-immunological interactions through heart rate variability analysis, in different groups of cardiovascular patients. We suggest that markers originating from variability analysis of heart rate signals seem to be related to inflammatory biomarkers.
Atrial Natriuretic Peptide Frameshift Mutation in Familial Atrial Fibrillation  

DM. Hodgson-Zingman, ML. Karst, LV. Zingman, DM. Heublein, et al.
N Engl J Med. 2008 July 10; 359(2): 158–165

We mapped an atrial fibrillation locus to chromosome 1p36-p35 and identified a heterozygous frameshift mutation in the gene encoding atrial natriuretic peptide. Circulating chimeric atrial natriuretic peptide (ANP) was detected in high concentration in subjects with the mutation, and shortened atrial action potentials were seen in an isolated heart model, creating a possible substrate for atrial fibrillation. This report implicates perturbation of the atrial natriuretic peptide–cyclic guanosine monophosphate (cGMP) pathway in cardiac electrical instability.
Impact of anemia on clinical outcome in patients with atrial fibrillation undergoing percutaneous coronary intervention: insights from the AFCAS registry.
M Puurunen, T Kiviniemi, W Nammas, A Schlitt, A Rubboli, K Nyman, et al.
BMJ Open 2014; 4:e004700.

The study adds to our knowledge on the prevalence and impact of anemia in patients with AF undergoing PCI and thus requiring combination antithrombotic medication. It shows that anemia is a frequent finding and that even mild anemia has an adverse impact on outcome.
Atrial Natriuretic Peptide Single Nucleotide Polymorphisms in Patients with Nonfamilial Structural Atrial Fibrillation.
P Francia, A Ricotta, A Frattari, R Stanzione, A Modestino, et al.
Clinical Medicine Insights: Cardiology 2013:7 153–159

We report lack of association between the rs5065 and −G664C ANP gene SNPs and AF in a Caucasian population of patients with structural AF. Further studies will clarify whether these or other ANP gene variants affect the risk of different subpheno-types of AF driven by distinct pathophysiological mechanisms.
Gene Expression and Genetic Variation in Human Atria.

H Lin, EV. Dolmatova, MP. Morley, KL. Lunetta, et al.
Heart Rhythm HRTHM5533.

We studied the gene expression profiles and genetic variations in 53 left atrial and 52 right atrial tissue samples collected from the Myocardial Applied Genomics Network (MAGNet) repository. The tissues were collected from heart failure patients undergoing transplantation and from unused organ donor hearts with normal ventricular function.
A total of 187 and 259 significant cis-associations between transcript levels and genetic variants were identified in left and right atrial tissues, respectively. We also found that a SNP at a known AF locus, rs3740293, was associated with the expression of MYOZ1 in both left and right atrial tissues. Our results implicate MYOZ1 as the causative gene at the chromosome 10q22 locus for AF. 

Global Left Atrial Strain Correlates with CHADS2 Risk Score in Patients with Atrial Fibrillation
SK. Saha, PL. Anderson, G Caracciolo, A Kiotsekoglou, S Wilansky, et al.

J Am Soc Echocardiogr 2011;24:506-12.

Global longitudinal LA strain was reduced in patients with AF compared with controls (P < .001) and was a predictor of high risk for thromboembolism (CHADS2 score > 2; odds ratio, 0.86; P = .02). LA strain indexes showed good interobserver and intraobserver variability. In sequential Cox models, the prediction of hospitalization and/or death was improved by addition of global LA strain and indexed LA volume to CHADS2 score (P = .003).

Time and Frequency Domain Analysis of Heart Rate Variability and their Correlations in Diabetes Mellitus.
PTA Seyd, VIT Ahamed, J Jacob, P Joseph K.
Int  Biol and Life Sci  2008; 4(1).

In this paper, changes in ANS activity are quantified by means of frequency and time domain analysis of R-R interval variability. Electrocardiograms (ECG) of 16 patients suffering from DM and of 16 healthy volunteers were recorded. Frequency domain analysis of extracted normal to normal interval (NN interval) data indicates significant difference in very low frequency (VLF) power, low frequency (LF) power and high frequency (HF) power, between the DM patients and control group. Time domain measures, standard deviation of NN interval (SDNN), root mean square of successive NN interval differences (RMSSD), successive NN intervals differing more than 50 ms (NN50 Count), percentage value of NN50 count (pNN50), HRV triangular index and triangular interpolation of NN intervals (TINN) also show significant difference between the DM patients and control group.

Power Spectral Density of the RR interval of a 55 year old healthy volunteer

Power Spectral Density of the RR interval of a 55 year old healthy volunteer



Power Spectral Density of the RR interval of a 55 year old healthy volunteer


Power Spectral Density of the RR interval of a 62 year old woman suffering from diabetes for the last 15 years.

Power Spectral Density of the RR interval of a 62 year old woman suffering from diabetes for the last 15 years.



Power Spectral Density of the RR interval of a 62 year old woman suffering from diabetes for the last 15 years.

Time domain and frequency domain analysis of the RR interval variability of diabetic and normal subjects shows that there is significant difference in these measures for DM patients with respect to normal subjects. Variation of the HRV parameters indicates changes in ANS activity of DM patients. This can provide valid information regarding autonomic neuropathy in people with diabetes. It may be noted that these methods can detect changes before clinical signs appear.

Quantification of Heart Rate Variability: A Measure based on Unique Heart Rates
VIT Ahamed, P Dhanasekaran, A Naseem, NG Karthick, TKA Jaleel, Paul K

It is established that the instantaneous heart rate (HR) of healthy humans keeps on changing. Analysis of heart rate variability (HRV) has become a popular non invasive tool for assessing the activities of autonomic nervous system. Depressed HRV has been found in several disorders, like diabetes mellitus (DM) and coronary artery disease, characterised by autonomic nervous dysfunction. A new technique, which searches for pattern repeatability in a time series, is proposed specifically for the analysis of heart rate data. These set of indices, which are termed as pattern repeatability measure and pattern repeatability ratio are compared with approximate entropy and sample entropy.

Cardiovascular autonomic neuropathy in patients with diabetes mellitus
International Journal of Pharma and Bio Sciences

The cardioautonomic reflexes of 82 diabetic subjects and 40 age and sex matched healthy controls were studied using blood pressure and heart rate variation in response to standing, deep breathing, isometric exercise, cold pressor test and determination of QTc interval. Among the 82 patients, 68 patients were found to have cardiac autonomic neuropathy (CAN). Results showed that diabetics had significantly impaired cardioautonomic reflexes compared to non-diabetics, which increases with the duration of diabetes. Out of 68 patients with CAN, QTc prolongation was observed in 64 patients. In conclusion the autonomic nervous system integrity is appeared to be greatly affected by diabetes mellitus and the degree of impairment was dependent on duration of the disease.

Prognostic Value of Heart Rate Variability Analysis in Patients with Depressed Left Ventricular Function Irrespective of Cardiac Rhythm
 M Sosnowski, Pw Macfarlane, R Parma, J Skrzypek-wanha, M Tendera

A new index of heart rate variability – HRF Fraction – was developed and its value for risk stratification was evaluated in 480 patients with coronary heart disease. The main purpose to introduce the HRVF was to overcome one of the most important constraints – cardiac arrhythmia, especially atrial fibrillation – that limits use of HRV measurement as a routine clinical tool. In 384 patients with sinus rhythm (SR) and 96 with AF HRV measurements from 24h ambulatory ECG were performed. Patients were followed for a median period of 28 months. The HRV indices in those who died were compared to those who survived. Authors found that HRV Fraction and- among standard time-domain indices- only SDANN, possessed properties that allow HRV measurement to be applied for risk stratification studies in unselected population of patients with cardiac arrhythmia.

Short- and long-term reproducibility of heart rate variability in patients with long-standing type I diabetes mellitus.
Burger AJ1, Charlamb M, Weinrauch LA, D’Elia JA
Am J Cardiol. 1997 Nov 1;80(9):1198-202.

Using Pearson correlation, the time domain indicators of parasympathetic activity demonstrated very strong correlations at 3 and 6 months compared with baseline, with good correlations at 1 year. The average SD of all 5-minute RR intervals maintained a very strong correlation for the entire year (r >0.94). In the frequency domain, the measures of parasympathetic and sympathetic activity maintained a solid correlation for the entire study period. Reproducibility of HRV was also examined using repeated-measures analysis of variance. The time and frequency domain parameters demonstrated very little variation over the study period of 12 months. Thus, our investigation demonstrated that HRV in long-term diabetics using 24-hour ambulatory recordings is abnormal and reproducible over a 12-month interval; very little variation in all HRV parameters, especially in parameters of parasympathetic activity, occurred during the study period.






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Epilogue: Volume 4 – Translational, Post-Translational and Regenerative Medicine in Cardiology

  • Larry H Bernstein, MD, FCAP, Author and Curator, Volume Four, Co-Editor
  • Justin Pearlman, MD, PhD, FACC, Content Consultant for Series A: Cardiovascular Diseases
  • Aviva Lev-Ari, PhD, RN, Co-Editor of Volume Four and Editor-in-Chief, BioMed e-Series


This completes Chapter 4 in two parts on the most dynamic developments in the regulatory pathways guiding cardiovascular dynamics and function in health and disease.  I have covered key features of these in two summaries, so I shall try to look further into important expected future directions and their anticipated implications.

1. Mechanisms of Disease

Signal Transduction: Akt Phosphorylates HK-II at Thr-473 and Increases Mitochondrial HK-II Association to Protect Cardiomyocytes

David J. Roberts, Valerie P. Tan-Sah, Jeffery M. Smith and Shigeki Miyamoto
J. Biol. Chem. 2013, 288:23798-23806. 10.1074/jbc.M113.482026

Backgound: Hexokinase II binds to mitochondria and promotes cell survival.
Results: Akt phosphorylates HK-II but not the threonine 473 mutant. The phosphomimetic T473D mutant decreases its dissociation from mitochondria induced by G-6P and increases cell viability against stress.
Conclusion: Akt phosphorylates HK-II at Thr-473, resulting in increased mitochondrial HK-II and cell protection.
Significance: The Akt-HK-II signaling nexus is important in cell survival.

HK-II Phosphorylation

HK-II Phosphorylation







It has been demonstrated that an increased level of HK-II at mitochondria is protective and is increased by protective interventions but decreased under stress.

It   has not  been fully determined   which  molecular  signals  regulate  the    level    of  HK-II at mitochondria.

Thr-473 in HK-II  is phosphorylated by Akt and this phosphorylation  leads to  increases  in  mitochondrial  HK-II binding  through inhibition  of  G-6P-dependent  dissociation, conferring resistance to oxidative stress  (Fig.     7).

Overexpression of  WTHK-II increases mitochondrial HK-II and confers protection against  hydrogen peroxide,  which  is enhanced significantly  in   HK-II   T473D-expressing  cells, whereas  NHK-II, lacking the ability to bind to mitochondria, does not confer protection.   Conversely,  mitochondrial  HK-II from mitochondria (Fig.6, and B) inhibits  the  IGF-1-mediated increase in mitochondrial HK-II and cellular protection.   Similar   dose-dependent  curves were obtained in mitochondrial   HK-II     against stress    (15–25).

Gene Expression and Genetic Variation in Human Atria

Honghuang Lin PhD, Elena V. Dolmatova MD, Michael P. Morley, PhD, Kathryn L. Lunetta PhD, David D. McManus MD, ScM, et al.
Heart Rhythm  2013

Background— The human left and right atria have different susceptibilities to develop atrialfibrillation (AF). However, the molecular events related to structural and functional changes that
enhance AF susceptibility are still poorly understood.
Objective— To characterize gene expression and genetic variation in human atria.
Results— We found that 109 genes were differentially expressed between left and right atrial tissues. A total of 187 and 259 significant cis-associations between transcript levels and genetic
variants were identified in left and right atrial tissues, respectively. We also found that a SNP at a known AF locus, rs3740293, was associated with the expression of MYOZ1 in both left and right
atrial tissues.
Conclusion— We found a distinct transcriptional profile between the right and left atrium, and extensive cis-associations between atrial transcripts and common genetic variants. Our results
implicate MYOZ1 as the causative gene at the chromosome 10q22 locus for AF.

Long-Term Caspase Inhibition Ameliorates Apoptosis, Reduces Myocardial Troponin-I Cleavage, Protects Left Ventricular Function, and Attenuates Remodeling in Rats With Myocardial Infarction

Y. Chandrashekhar,  Soma Sen, Ruth Anway,  Allan Shuros,  Inder Anand,

J Am Col  Cardiol  2004; 43(2)

This study was designed to evaluate whether in vivo caspase inhibition can prevent myocardial contractile protein degradation, improve myocardial function, and attenuate ventricular remodeling.
Apoptosis is thought to play an important role in the development and progression of heart failure (HF) after a myocardial infarction (MI). However, it is not known whether inhibiting apoptosis can attenuate left ventricular (LV) remodeling and minimize systolic dysfunction.

A 28-day infusion of caspase inhibitor was administeredimmediately after an anterior MI. In addition, five sham-operated rats given the caspase inhibitor were compared with 17 untreated sham-operated animals to study effects in non-MI rats. Left ventricular function, remodeling parameters, and hemodynamics were studied four weeks later. Myocardial caspase 3 activation and troponin-I contractile protein cleavage were studied in the non-infarct, remote LV myocardium using Western blots. Apoptosis was assessed using immunohistochemistry for activated caspase-positive cells as well as the TUNEL method. Collagen volume was estimated using morphometry.

Caspase inhibition reduced myocardial caspase 3 activation. This was accompanied by less cleavage of troponin-I, an important component of the cardiac contractile apparatus, and fewer apoptotic cardiomyocytes. Furthermore, caspase inhibition reduced LV-weight-to- body-weight ratio, decreased myocardial interstitial collagen deposition, attenuated LV remodeling, and better preserved LV systolic function after MI.

Caspase inhibition, started soon after MI and continued for four weeks, preserves myocardial contractile proteins, reduces systolic dysfunction, and attenuates ventricular remodeling.

These findings may have important therapeutic implications in post-MI HF. J Am Col Cardiol 2004;43:295–301)

Precardiac deletion of Numb and Numblike reveals renewal of cardiac progenitors

Lincoln T Shenje,  Peter P Rainer , Gun-sik Cho , Dong-ik Lee , Weimin Zhong , Richard P Harvey , David A Kass , Chulan Kwon *,  et al.
eLife 2014.

Cardiac progenitor cells (CPCs) must control their number and fate to sustain the rapid heart growth during development, yet the intrinsic factors and environment governing these processes remain unclear. Here, we show that deletion of the ancient cell-fate regulator Numb (Nb) and its homologue Numblike (Nbl) depletes CPCs in second pharyngeal arches (PA2s) and is associated with an atrophic heart. With histological, fow cytometric and functional analyses, we fnd that CPCs remain undifferentiated and expansive in the PA2, but differentiate into cardiac cells as they exit the arch. Tracing of Nb- and Nbl-defcient CPCs by lineage-specifc mosaicism reveals that the CPCs normally populate in the PA2, but lose their expansion potential in the PA2. These fndings demonstrate that Nb and Nbl are intrinsic factors crucial for the renewal of CPCs in the PA2 and
that the PA2 serves as a microenvironment for their expansion.

2. Diagnostics and Risk Assessment

Classical and Novel Biomarkers for Cardiovascular Risk Prediction in the United States

Aaron R. Folsom
J Epidemiol 2013;23(3):158-162

Cardiovascular risk prediction models based on classical risk factors identified in epidemiologic cohort studies are useful in primary prevention of cardiovascular disease in individuals. This article briefly reviews aspects of
cardiovascular risk prediction in the United States and efforts to evaluate novel risk factors. Even though many novel risk markers have been found to be associated with cardiovascular disease, few appear to improve risk prediction
beyond the powerful, classical risk factors. A recent US consensus panel concluded that clinical measurement of certain novel markers for risk prediction was reasonable, namely,

  1. hemoglobin A1c (in all adults),
  2. microalbuminuria (in patients with hypertension or diabetes), and
  3. C-reactive protein,
  4. lipoprotein-associated phospholipase,
  5. coronary calcium,
  6. carotid intima-media thickness, and
  7. ankle/brachial index (in patients deemed to be at intermediate cardiovascular risk, based on traditional risk factors).

Diagnostic accuracy of NT-proBNP ratio (BNP-R) for early diagnosis of tachycardia-mediated cardiomyopathy: a pilot study

Amir M. Nia, Natig Gassanov, Kristina M. Dahlem, Evren Caglayan, Martin Hellmich, et al.
Clin Res Cardiol (2011) 100:887–896

Tachycardia-mediated cardiomyopathy (TMC) occurs as a consequence of prolonged high heart rate due to ventricular and supraventricular tachycardia. In animal models, rapid pacing induces severe biventricular remodeling with dilation and dysfunction [7]. On a cellular basis, cardiomyocytes exert fundamental morphological and functional roles.

When heart failure and tachycardia occur simultaneously, a useful diagnostic tool for early discrimination of patients with benign tachycardia-mediated  cardiomyopathy (TMC) versus major structural heart disease  (MSHD) is not available. Such a tool is required to prevent unnecessary and wearing diagnostics in patients with reversible TMC. Moreover, it could lead to early additional diagnostics and therapeutic approaches in patients with  MSHD.

A total of 387 consecutive patients with supraventricular arrhythmia underwent assessment.  Of these patients, 40 fulfilled the inclusion criteria
with a resting heart rate C100 bpm and an impaired left ventricular ejection fraction \40%. In all patients, successful electrical cardioversion was performed. At baseline, day 1 and weekly for 4 weeks, levels of NT-proBNP and echocardiographic parameters were evaluated.

NT-proBNP ratio (BNP-R) was calculated as a quotient of baseline NT-proBNP/follow-up NT-proBNP. After 4 weeks, cardiac catheterization was performed to identify patients with a final diagnosis of TMC versus MSHD.

Initial NT-proBNP concentrations were elevated and consecutively decreased after cardioversion in all patients studied. The area under the ROC curve for BNP-R to detect TMC was 0.90 (95% CI 0.79–1.00; p \ 0.001) after 1 week  and 0.995 (95% CI 0.99–1.00; p \ 0.0001) after 4 weeks. One week after cardioversion already, a BNP-R cutoff C2.3 was useful for TMC diagnosis indicated by an accuracy of 90%, sensitivity of 84% and specificity of 95%.

BNP-R was found to be highly accurate for the early diagnosis of TMC.

Omega-3 Index and Cardiovascular Health

Clemens von Schacky
Nutrients 2014; 6: 799-814;  http://dx.

Fish, marine oils, and their concentrates all serve as sources of the two marine omega-3 fatty acids eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), as do some products from algae.
To demonstrate an effect of EPA + DHA on heart health, a number of randomized, controlled intervention studies with clinical endpoints like overall mortality or a combination of adverse cardiac events were conducted in populations with elevated cardiovascular risk. One early intervention study with oily fish, rich in EPA + DHA, and some early studies with fish oil or fish oil concentrate or even purified EPA at doses ranging between 0.9 and 1.8 g/day indeed demonstrated effects in terms of fewer sudden cardiac deaths, fatal or non-fatal myocardial infarctions, or a combination of adverse cardiac events.

Recent meta-analyses found no significant benefits on total mortality, cardiovascular mortality, and other adverse cardiac or cardiovascular events [13–18]. This is in contrast to findings in epidemiologic studies, where intake of EPA + DHA had been found to correlate generally with an up to 50% lower incidence of adverse cardiac events [18,19], and in even sharper contrast to epidemiologic studies based on levels of EPA + DHA, demonstrating e.g., a 10-fold lower incidence of sudden cardiac death associated with high levels of the
fatty acids, as compared to low levels.

This seemingly contradictory evidence has led the American Heart Association to recommend “omega-3 fatty acids from fish or fish oil capsules (1 g/day) for cardiovascular disease risk reduction” for secondary prevention, whereas the European Society for Cardiology recommends “Fish at least twice a week, one of which to be oily fish”, but no supplements for cardiovascular prevention.

A similar picture emerges for atrial fibrillation: In epidemiologic studies, consumption of EPA + DHA or higher levels of EPA + DHA were associated with lower risk for developing atrial fibrillation, while intervention studies found no effect. Pertinent guidelines do not mention EPA + DHA. A similar picture also emerges for severe ventricular rhythm disturbances.

Why is it that trial results are at odds with results from epidemiology? What needs to be done to better translate the epidemiologic findings into trial results? The current review will try to shed some light on this  issue, with a special consideration of the Omega-3 Index.

Recent large trials with eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) in the cardiovascular field did not demonstrate a beneficial effect in terms of reductions of clinical endpoints like

  • total mortality,
  • sudden cardiac arrest or
  • other major adverse cardiac events.

Pertinent guidelines do not uniformly recommend EPA + DHA for cardiac patients. In contrast,

  • in epidemiologic findings, higher blood levels of EPA + DHA were consistently associated with a lower risk for the endpoints mentioned.

The following points argue for the use of erythrocytes: erythrocyte fatty acid
composition has a low biological variability, erythrocyte fat consists almost exclusively of phospholipids, erythrocyte fatty acid composition reflects tissue fatty acid composition, pre-analytical stability, and other points.  In 2004, EPA + DHA in erythrocyte fatty acids were defined as the Omega-3 Index and suggested as a risk factor for sudden cardiac death [39]. Integral to the definition was a specific and standardized analytical procedure, conforming the quality management routinely implemented in the field of clinical chemistry.

The laboratories adhering to the HS-Omega-3 Index methodology perform regular proficiency testing, as mandated in routine Clinical Chemistry labs. So far, the HS-Omega-3 Index is the only analytical procedure used in several laboratories. A standardized analytical procedure is a prerequisite to generate the data base necessary to transport a laboratory parameter from research into clinical routine. Moreover, standardization of the analytical procedure is the first important criterion for establishing a new biomarker for cardiovascular risk set forth by the American Heart Association and the US Preventive Services Task Force.

Because of low biological and analytical variability, a standardized analytical procedure, a large database and for other reasons,

  • blood levels of EPA + DHA are frequently assessed in erythrocytes, using the HS-Omega-3 Index methodology.

Table 1. Mean HS-Omega-3 Index values in various populations, Mean (±standard deviation (SD)). Please note that in every population studied, a lower value was found to be associated with a worse condition than a higher value. References are given, if not, unpublished, n = number of individuals measured.

All levels of fatty acids are determined by the balance of substance entering the body and those leaving the body. Neither a recent meal, even if rich in EPA + DHA, nor severe cardiac events altered the HS-Omega-3 Index. However, while long-term intake of EPA + DHA, e.g., as assessed with food questionnaires, was the main predictor of the HS-Omega-3 Index, long-term intake explained only 12%–25% of its variability. A hereditary component of 24% exists. A number of other factors correlated positively (+) or negatively (−), like age (+), body mass index (−), socioeconomic status (+), smoking (−), but no other conventional cardiac risk factors. More factors determining the level of the HS-Omega-3 Index, especially regarding efflux remain to be  defined. Therefore, it is impossible to predict the HS-Omega-3 Index in an individual, as it is impossible to predict the increase in the HS-Omega-3 Index in an individual in response to a given dose of EPA + DHA. In Table 2, current evidence is presented on the relation of the HS-Omega-3 Index to CV events.

The HS-Omega-3 Index has made it possible to reclassify individuals from intermediate cardiovascular risk into the respective high risk and low risk strata, the third criterion for establishing a new biomarker for CV  risk.

A low Omega-3 Index fulfills the current criteria for a novel cardiovascular risk factor.

Increasing the HS-Omega-3 Index by increased intake of EPA + DHA in randomized controlled trials improved a number of surrogate parameters for cardiovascular risk:

  1. heart rate was reduced,
  2. heart rate variability was increased,
  3. blood pressure was reduced,
  4. platelet reactivity was reduced,
  5. triglycerides were reduced,
  6. large buoyant low-density lipoprotein (LDL)-particles were increased and
  7. small dense LDL-particles were reduced,
  8. large buoyant high-density lipoproteins (HDL)2 were increased,
  9. very low-density lipoprotein (VLDL1) + 2 was reduced,
  10. pro-inflammatory cytokines (e.g., tumor necrosis factor alpha, interleukin-1β, interleukins-6,8,10 and monocyte chemoattractant protein-1) were reduced,
  11. anti-inflammatory oxylipins were increased.

Importantly, in a two-year randomized double-blind angiographic intervention trial, increased erythrocyte EPA + DHA

  • reduced progression and increased regression of coronary lesions, an intermediate parameter.

Taken together, increasing the HS-Omega-3 Index improved surrogate and intermediate parameters for cardiovascular events. A large intervention trial with clinical endpoints based on the HS-Omega-3 Index remains to be conducted. Therefore, the fourth criterion, proof of therapeutic consequence of determining the HS-Omega- Index, is only partially fulfilled.


Neutral results of intervention trials can be explained by issues of bioavailability and trial design that surfaced after the trials were initiated.

In the future, incorporating the Omega-3 Index into trial designs by

  1. recruiting participants with a low Omega-3 Index and
  2. treating them within a pre-specified target range (e.g., 8%–11%),
  3. will make more efficient trials possible and
    • provide clearer answers to the questions asked than previously possible.


3. Stem Cells and Regenerative Biology

Adult Stem Cells Reverse Muscle Atrophy In Elderly Mice

Bioengineers at the University of California, Berkeley in a new study published in Nature say they have identified two key regulatory pathways that control how well adult stem cells repair and replace damaged tissue. They then tweaked how those stem cells reacted to those biochemical signals to revive the ability of muscle tissue in old mice to repair itself nearly as well as the muscle in the mice’s much younger counterparts. Irina Conboy, an assistant professor of bioengineering and an investigator at the Berkeley Stem Cell Center and at the California Institute for Quantitative Biosciences (QB3), led the research team conducting this study. Because the findings relate to adult stem cells that reside in existing tissue, this approach to rejuvenating degenerating muscle eliminates the ethical and medical complications associated with transplanting tissues grown from embryonic stem cells. The researchers focused on

  • the interplay of two competing molecular pathways that control the stem cells,

which sit next to the mature, differentiated cells that make up our working body parts. When the mature cells are damaged or wear out, the stem cells are called into action to begin the process of rebuilding.

old muscle tissue is left with

old muscle tissue is left with













“We don’t realize it, but as we grow our bodies are constantly being remodeled,” said Conboy. “We are constantly falling apart, but we don’t notice it much when we’re young because we’re always being restored. As we age, our stem cells are prevented, through chemical signals, from doing their jobs.” The good news, the researchers said, is that

  • the stem cells in old tissue are still ready and able to perform their regenerative function
  • if they receive the appropriate chemical signals.

Studies have shown that when old tissue is placed in an environment of young blood, the stem cells behave as if they are young again. “Conversely, we have found in a study published last year that even young stem cells rapidly age when placed among blood and tissue from old mice,” said Carlson, who will stay on at UC Berkeley to expand his work on stem cell engineering.

  • Adult stem cells have a receptor called Notch that, when activated,
  • tells them that it is time to grow and divide
  • stem cells also have a receptor for the protein TGF-beta
  • that sets off a chain reaction activatingthemoleculepSmad3 and
    • ultimately producing cyclin-dependent kinase (CDK) inhibitors, which regulate the cell’s ability to divide.
  • activated Notch competeswithactivatedpSmad3 for
    • binding to the regulatory regions of the same CDK inhibitors in the stem cell

“We found that Notch is capable of physically kicking off pSmad3 from the promoters for the CDK inhibitors within the stem cell’s nucleus, which tells us that a precise manipulation of the balance of these pathways would allow the ability to control stem cell responses.” Notch and TGF-beta are well known in molecular biology, but Conboy’s lab is the first to connect them to the process of aging, and the first to show that they act in opposition to each other within the nucleus of the adult stem cell. Aging and the inevitable march towards death are, in part, due to the progressive decline of Notch and the increased levels of TGF-beta , producing a one-two punch to the stem cell’s capacity to effectively rebuild the body, the researchers said.

The researchers disabled the “aging pathway” that tells stem cells to stop dividing by using an established method of RNA interference that reduced levels of pSmad3. The researchers then examined the muscle of the different groups of mice one to five days after injury to compare how well the tissue repaired itself. As expected,

  •  muscle tissue in the young mice easily replaced damaged cells with new, healthy cells. In contrast,
  • the areas of damaged muscle in the control group of old mice were characterized by fibroblasts and scar tissue. However,
  • muscles in the old mice whose stem cell “aging pathway”had been dampened showed levels of cellular regeneration that were
    • comparable to their much younger peers, and that were 3 to 4 times greater than those of the group of “untreated” old mice.

Adult Stem Cells To Repair Damaged Heart Muscle

In the first trial of its kind in the world, 60 patients who have recently suffered a major heart attack will be injected with selected stem cells from their own bone marrow during routine coronary bypass surgery. The Bristol trial will test

  • whether the stem cells will repair heart muscle cells damaged by the heart attack,
  • by preventing late scar formation and hence impaired heart contraction.

“ Cardiac stem cell therapy aims to repair the damaged heart as it has the potential to replace the damaged tissue.” We have elected to use a very promising stem cell type selected from the patient’s own bone marrow. This approach ensures no risk of rejection or infection. It also gets around the ethical issues that would result from use of stem cells from embryonic or foetal tissue.

In this trial (known as TransACT), all patients will have bone marrow harvested before their heart operation. Then either stem cells from their own bone marrow or a placebo will be injected into the patients’ damaged hearts during routine coronary bypass surgery. The feasibility and safety of this technique has already been demonstrated. As a result of the chosen double blind placebo-controlled design, neither the patients nor the surgeon knows whether the patient is going to be injected with stem cells or placebo. This ensures that results are not biased in any way, and is the most powerful way to prove whether or not the new treatment is effective.

Research of Stem Cells Repair Damaged Heart

By Kelvinlew Minhan | March 26th 2008

Under highly specific growth conditions in laboratory culture dishes, stem cells

  • can be coaxed into developing as new cardiomyocytes and vascular endothelial cells (Kirschstein and Skirboll, 2001).

Discoveries that have triggered the interest in the application of adult stem cells to heart muscle repair in animal models have been made by researchers in the past few years (Kirschstein and Skirboll, 2001). One  study demonstrated that cardiac tissue can be regenerated in the mouse heart attack model through the introduction of adult stem cells from mouse bone marrow (Kirschstein and Skirboll, 2001). These cells were transplanted into the marrow of irradiated mice approximately 10 weeks before the recipient mice were subjected to heart attack thru tying off different major heart blood vessel, the left anterior descending (LAD) coronary artery. The survival rate was 26 percent at two to four weeks after the induced cardiac injury (Kirschstein and Skirboll, 2001). Another study of the region surrounding the damaged tissue in surviving mice showed the presence of donor-derived cardiomyocytes and endothelial cells (Kirschstein and Skirboll, 2001).

  • the mouse hematopoietic stem cells transplanted into the bone marrow had migrated to the border part of the damaged area, and differentiated into several types of tissue for cardiac repair.

Regenerating heart tissue through stem cell therapy


A groundbreaking study on repairing damaged heart tissue through stem cell therapy has given patients hope that they may again live active lives. An international team of Mayo Clinic researchers and collaborators has done it by discovering a way to regenerate heart tissue.

“It’s a paradigm shift,” says Andre Terzic, M.D., Ph.D., director of Mayo Clinic’s Center for Regenerative Medicine and senior investigator of the stem cell trial. “We are moving from traditional medicine, which addresses the symptoms of disease to cure disease.” Treating patients with cardiac disease has typically involved managing heart damage with medication.  In collaboration with European researchers, Mayo Clinic researchers have discovered a novel way to repair a damaged heart. In Mayo Clinic’s breakthrough process,
  • stem cells are harvested from a patient’s bone marrow.
  •  undergo a laboratory treatment that guides them into becoming cardiac cells,
  • which are then injected into the patient’s heart in an effort to grow healthy heart tissue.
The study is the first successful demonstration in people of the feasibility and safety of transforming adult stem cells into cardiac cells. Beyond heart failure, the Mayo Clinic research also is a milestone in the emerging field of regenerative medicine, which seeks to fully heal damaged tissue and organs.

Creating a heart repair kit

Process of converting bone marrow cells to heart cells
This image shows the process used in the clinical trials to repair damaged hearts. Cardioprogenitor cells is another term for cardiopoietic cells, those that were transformed into cardiac cells.
Stem cells transforming to cardiac tissue
Transformation: The cardiopoietic cells on the left react to the cardiac environment, cluster together with like cells and form tissue.
 Mayo Clinic researchers pursued this research, inspired by an intriguing discovery. In the early 2000s, they analyzed stem cells from 11 patients undergoing heart bypass surgery. The stem cells from two of the patients had an unusually high expression of certain transcription factors — the proteins that control the flow of genetic information between cells. Clinically, the two patients appeared no different from the others, yet their stem cells seemed to show unique capacity for heart repair.
That observation drove them to  determine how to convert  nonreparative stem cells to become reparative. Doing so required determining precisely how the human heart naturally develops, at a subcellular level. That painstaking work was led by Atta Behfar, M.D., Ph.D., a cardiovascular researcher at Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn. With other members of the Terzic research team, Dr. Behfar identified hundreds of proteins involved in the process of heart development (cardiogenesis). The researchers then set out to identify which of these proteins are essential in driving a stem cell to become a cardiac cell. Using computer models,
  • they simulated the effects of eliminating proteins one by one from the process of heart development.
  • That method yielded about 25 proteins.
    • The team then pared that number down to 8 proteins that their data indicated were essential.
The research team was then able to develop the lab procedure that guides stem cells to become heart cells.
The treated stem cells were dubbed cardiopoietic, or heart creative. A proof of principle study about guided cardiopoiesis, whose results were published in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology in 2010, demonstrated that animal models with heart disease that had been injected with caridiopoietic cells had improved heart function compared with animals injected with untreated stem cells. Hailed as “landmark work,” by the journal’s editorial writer, the study showed it was indeed possible to teach stem cells to become cardiac cells. Stem cells from each patient in the cardiopoiesis group were successfully guided to become cardiac cells. The treated cells were injected into the heart wall of each of those patients without apparent complications.
“Ihis newprocessofcardiopoiesiswas achieved in 100 percent of cases, with a very good safety profile,” Dr.Terzic says. “We are enabling the heart toregainitsinitial structure and function,” Dr.Terzic says, “and we will not stop here.” The clinicaltrialfindingsareexpectedto be published in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology in 2013.  Meanwhile, research to improve the injection process and effectiveness is underway.

Stem Cells from Humans Repair Heart Damage in Monkeys

GEN News Highlights  May1, 2014

GPCR Insights Brighten Drug Discovery Outlook

Ken Doyle, Ph.D.

GEN Apr 15, 2014 (Vol. 34, No. 8)

Recent years have seen major advances in understanding the structure-function relationships of G protein-coupled receptors (GPCRs). This large superfamily of transmembrane receptors comprises over 800 members in humans.

GPCRs regulate a wide variety of physiological processes including

  • sensation (vision, taste, and smell),
  • growth,
  • hormone responses, and
  • regulation of the immune and
  • autonomic nervous systems.

Their involvement in multiple disease pathways makes GPCRs attractive targets for drug discovery efforts.

These multifaceted proteins will be the subject of “GPCR Structure, Function and Drug Discovery,” a Global Technology Community conference scheduled to take place May 22–23 in Boston. The conference is expected to cover a broad range of topics including biased signaling, membrane protein structures, GPCR signaling dynamics, computational approaches to disease.

According to Bryan Roth, M.D., Ph.D., Michael Hooker Distinguished Professor at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill,

  • drugs that can selectively target various downstream GPCR pathways hold the most promise.

Dr. Roth’s laboratory studies approximately 360 different GPCRs with therapeutic potential using massively parallel screening methods. His research focuses on “functional selectivity,” which he describes as

  • “the ligand-dependent selectivity for certain signal transduction pathways in one and the same receptor.”

Dr. Roth notes that structural data have demonstrated that GPCRs exist in multiple conformations: “The structures of the 5-hydroxytryptamine 2B receptor and the recent high-resolution delta-opioid receptor structure have provided evidence for conformational rearrangements that contribute to functional selectivity.” Drugs that take advantage of this selectivity by preferentially stabilizing certain conformations may have unique therapeutic utility.

“Generally, we look at G protein versus arrestin-based signaling, although it’s also possible to examine how drugs activate one G protein-mediated signaling pathway versus another.


fluorescently tagged Arrestin and GPRC of interest

fluorescently tagged Arrestin and GPRC of interest








  • β-Arrestins constitute a major class of intracellular scaffolding proteins that regulate GPCR signaling by preventing or enhancing the binding of GPCRs to intracellular signaling molecules. Laura Bohn, Ph.D., associate professor at Scripps Florida,  studies the roles that β-arrestins play in GPCR-mediated signaling.
  • a particular β-arrestin can play multiple, tissue-specific roles—shutting down the signaling of a receptor in one tissue while activating signaling in another.
  • different ligands can direct GPCR signaling to different effectors, which could result in different physiological effects,” comments Dr. Bohn. “Our challenge is in determining what signaling pathways to harness to promote certain effects, while avoiding others.”
Arrestin binding to active GPCR kinase (GRK)-phosphorylated GPCRs blocks G protein coupling

Arrestin binding to active GPCR kinase (GRK)-phosphorylated GPCRs blocks G protein coupling












Using Designer Proteins

The multifunctional signaling abilities of β-arrestins has prompted large-scale study of their properties. Vsevolod Gurevich, Ph.D., professor of pharmacology at Vanderbilt University, studies

  1. the structure,
  2. function, and
  3. biology of arrestin proteins.

β-arrestins have three main functions.

  1. First, they prevent the coupling of GPCRs to G proteins, thereby blocking further G protein-mediated signaling (a process known as desensitization).
  2. Second, the binding of a GCPR releases the β-arrestin’s carboxy-terminal “tail” and promotes internalization of the receptor.
  3. Third, receptor-bound β-arrestins bind other signaling proteins, resulting in a second wave of arrestin-mediated signaling.

Dr. Gurevich’s laboratory studies β-arrestin biology through the use of three types of specially designed mutants—

  1. enhanced phosphorylation-dependent,
  2. receptor-specific, and
  3. signaling-biased mutants.

an enhanced mutant of visual β-arrestin-1 partially compensates for defects of rhodopsin phosphorylation in vivo,

“Several congenital disorders are caused by mutant GPCRs that cannot be normally phosphorylated because they have lost GPCR kinase (GRK) sites. Enhanced super-active arrestins have the potential to compensate for these defects, bringing the signaling closer to normal.”

  • Dr. Gurevich explains the strategy involved in creating designer β-arrestins: “We identify residues critical for individual β-arrestin functions by mutagenesis, using limited structural information as a guide.
  • We also work on getting more structural information. In collaboration with different crystallographers, we solved the crystal structures of all four vertebrate β-arrestin subtypes in the basal state, as well as the structure of the arrestin-1-rhodopsin complex.”
  • Dr. Gurevich believes that designer β-arrestins “are the next step in research and therapy, moving way beyond what small molecules can achieve.
  • The difference in capabilities between redesigned signaling proteins, including β-arrestins, and conventional small molecule drugs is about the same as that between airplanes and horse-driven carriages.”
  • Dr. Gurevich observes that redesigned signaling proteins face considerable obstacles in terms of gene delivery, but that the efforts are worth it. “Using designer signaling proteins, we can tell the cell what to do in a language it cannot disobey,” asserts Dr. Gurevich.

Synthesis and Antihypertensive Screening of Novel Substituted 1,2- Pyrazoline Sulfonamide Derivatives

Avinash M. Bhagwat , Anilchandra R. Bha , Mahesh S. Palled , Anand P. Khadke , Anuradha M. Patil, et al.

Am. J. PharmTech Res. 2014; 4(2). 

Angiotensin II receptor antagonists, also known as angiotensin receptor blockers , AT1-receptor antagonists or sartans, are a group of pharmaceuticals which modulate the renin-angiotensin-aldosterone system. Their main use is in hypertension, diabetic nephropathy and congestiveheart failure. These substances are AT1-receptor antagonists which

  • block the activationof angiotensin II AT1 receptors.

Blockade of AT1 receptors directly causes

1 vasodilation,

2 reduces secretion of vasopressin,

3 reduces production and secretion of aldosterone, amongst other actions –

4 the combined effect of which is reduction of blood pressure.

Irbesartan is a safe and effectiveangiotensin II receptor antagonist with an affinity for the AT1 receptor that is more than 8,500times greater than its affinity for AT2 receptor. This agent has a higher bioavailability (60-80%) than other drugs in its class . In both Losartan and Irbesartan structures imidazole moiety is being present. A structure analog of losartan and Irbesartan are designed by incorporating the heterocycles like pyrazoline group. We felt it would be interesting to explore the possibilities of 1,2-pyrazoline derivatives for Angiotensin II receptor antagonistic activity.

The Irbesartan structure was a modified Losartan structure, which had all the identity of a Losartan molecule but with groups that would fit the hydrophobic cavity with a tetramethylene group and an alkyl side chain that would fit in the pocket in the AT1 receptor. The hydroxyl methyl group of Losartan being replaced with carbonyl group of Irbesartan. With a view to introduce a hydrogen bonding interaction with AT1 receptor, these structures were further modified with a view of retaining both hydrogen bonding characteristics and as well as lipophilic groups. Losartan and Irbesartan structure contains a diphenyl molecule & imidazole ring.

In Losartan and Irbesartan diphenyl molecule is attached to the nitrogen of the imidazole ring. It is interesting to to see the activity of compounds containing two phenyl rings attached at two different positions namely3,5 position of 1, 2-pyrazoline ring. The sulphonamide derivatives known for its diuretics activity which reduces renal hypertension. We use to synthesize sulphonamide and pyrazoline in one molecule to check its possible Angiotensin II receptor antagonist property. For this reason chalcones were synthesized reacted with hydrazine hydrate to yield the corresponding 1,2-pyrazoline derivatives which further condensed with sulphanilamide and formaldehyde by mannich condensation reaction.

Acute Toxicity Study (LD50)

This study was carried out in order to establish the therapeutic and toxic doses of the newly synthesized 1,2 pyrazoline derivatives. To establish LD50 of these compounds the method described by Miller & Tainter was employed.

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Diagnostic Value of Cardiac Biomarkers

Diagnostic Value of Cardiac Biomarkers

Author and Curator: Larry H Bernstein, MD, FCAP 

These presentations covered several views of the utilization of cardiac markers that have evolved for over 60 years.  The first stage was the introduction of enzymatic assays and isoenzyme measurements to distinguish acute hepatitis and acute myocardial infarction, which included lactate dehydrogenase (LD isoenzymes 1, 2) at a time that late presentation of the patient in the emergency rooms were not uncommon, with the creatine kinase isoenzyme MB declining or disappeared from the circulation.  The world health organization (WHO) standard definition then was the presence of two of three:

1. Typical or atypical precordial pressure in the chest, usually with radiation to the left arm

2. Electrocardiographic changes of Q-wave, not previously seen, definitive; ST- elevation of acute myocardial injury with repolarization;
T-wave inversion.

3. The release into the circulation of myocardial derived enzymes –
creatine kinase – MB (which was adapted to measure infarct size), LD-1,
both of which were replaced with troponins T and I, which are part of the actomyosin contractile apparatus.

The research on infarct size elicited a major research goal for early diagnosis and reduction of infarct size, first with fibrinolysis of a ruptured plaque, and this proceeded into the full development of a rapidly evolving interventional cardiology as well as cardiothoracic surgery, in both cases, aimed at removal of plaque or replacement of vessel.  Surgery became more imperative for multivessel disease, even if only one vessel was severely affected.

So we have clinical history, physical examination, and emerging biomarkers playing a large role for more than half a century.  However, the role of biomarkers broadened.  Patients were treated with antiplatelet agents, and a hypercoagulable state coexisted with myocardial ischemic injury.  This made the management of the patient reliant on long term followup for Warfarin with the international normalized ratio (INR) for a standardized prothrombin time (PT), and reversal of the PT required transfusion with thawed fresh frozen plasma (FFP).  The partial thromboplastin test (PPT) was necessary in hospitalization to monitor the heparin effect.

Thus, we have identified the use of traditional cardiac biomarkers for:

1. Diagnosis
2. Therapeutic monitoring

The story is only the beginning.  Many patients who were atypical in presentation, or had cardiovascular ischemia without plaque rupture were problematic.  This led to a concerted effort to redesign the troponin assays for high sensitivity with the concern that the circulation should normally be free of a leaked structural marker of myocardial damage. But of course, there can be a slow leak or a decreased rate of removal of such protein from the circulation, and the best example of this would be the patient with significant renal insufficiency, as TnT is clear only through the kidney, and TNI is clear both by the kidney and by vascular endothelium.  The introduction of the high sensitivity assay has been met with considerable confusion, and highlights the complexity of diagnosis in heart disease.  Another test that is used for the diagnosis of heart failure is in the class of natriuretic peptides (BNP, pro NT-BNP, and ANP), the last of which has been under development.

While there is an exponential increase in the improvement of cardiac devices and discovery of pharmaceutical targets, the laboratory support for clinical management is not mature.  There are miRNAs that may prove valuable, matrix metalloprotein(s), and potential endothelial and blood cell surface markers, they require

1. codevelopment with new medications
2. standardization across the IVD industry
3. proficiency testing applied to all laboratories that provide testing
4. the measurement  on multitest automated analyzers with high capability in proteomic measurement  (MS, time of flight, MS-MS)

nejmra1216063_f1   Atherosclerotic Plaques Associated with Various Presentations               nejmra1216063_f2     Inflammatory Pathways Predisposing Coronary Arteries to Rupture and Thrombosis.        atherosclerosis progression

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Adult Left Atrium: Reduction of Pitx2c Expression Promotes Atrial Fibrillation Inducibility and Complex Changes in Gene Expression

Aviva Lev-Ari, PhD, RN

PITX2c Is Expressed in the Adult Left Atrium, and Reducing Pitx2c Expression Promotes Atrial Fibrillation Inducibility and Complex Changes in Gene Expression

Paulus Kirchhof, MD*Peter C. Kahr*Sven KaeseIlaria Piccini, PhD, Ismail Vokshi, BSc, Hans-Heinrich Scheld, MD, Heinrich Rotering, MD, Lisa Fortmueller, MD (vet),Sandra Laakmann, MD (vet), Sander Verheule, PhD, Ulrich Schotten, MD, PhD,Larissa Fabritz, MD and Nigel A. Brown, PhD

Author Affiliations

From the Department of Cardiology and Angiology (P.K., P.C.K., S.K., I.P., L.F., S.L., L.F.) and the Department of Thoracic and Cardiovascular Surgery (H.-H.S., H.R.), University Hospital Muenster, Germany; Division of Biomedical Sciences (P.C.K., I.V., N.A.B.), St. George’s, University of London, United Kingdom; and the Department of Physiology (S.V., U.S.), Maastricht University, The Netherlands.

Correspondence to Nigel A. Brown, PhD, Division of Biomedical Sciences, St George’s, University of London, Cranmer Terrace, London, SW17 0RE, UK. E-mail

* Drs Kirchhof and Kahr contributed equally to this work.


Background— Intergenic variations on chromosome 4q25, close to the PITX2 transcription factor gene, are associated with atrial fibrillation (AF). We therefore tested whether adult hearts express PITX2 and whether variation in expression affects cardiac function.

Methods and Results— mRNA for PITX2 isoform c was expressed in left atria of human and mouse, with levels in right atrium and left and right ventricles being 100-fold lower. In mice heterozygous for Pitx2c (Pitx2c+/−), left atrial Pitx2c expression was 60% of wild-type and cardiac morphology and function were not altered, except for slightly elevated pulmonary flow velocity. Isolated Pitx2c+/−hearts were susceptible to AF during programmed stimulation. At short paced cycle lengths, atrial action potential durations were shorter in Pitx2c+/− than in wild-type. Perfusion with the β-receptor agonist orciprenaline abolished inducibility of AF and reduced the effect on action potential duration. Spontaneous heart rates, atrial conduction velocities, and activation patterns were not affected in Pitx2c+/− hearts, suggesting that action potential duration shortening caused wave length reduction and inducibility of AF. Expression array analyses comparing Pitx2c+/− with wild-type, for left atrial and right atrial tissue separately, identified genes related to calcium ion binding, gap and tight junctions, ion channels, and melanogenesis as being affected by the reduced expression of Pitx2c.

Conclusions— These findings demonstrate a physiological role for PITX2 in the adult heart and support the hypothesis that dysregulation of PITX2 expression can be responsible for susceptibility to AF.


Circulation: Cardiovascular Genetics.2011; 4: 123-133

Published online before print January 31, 2011,

doi: 10.1161/ CIRCGENETICS.110.958058


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CaKMII Inhibition in Obese, Diabetic Mice leads to Lower Blood Glucose Levels

Reporter: Larry H Bernstein, MD, FCAP

This recent publication was reported in MedPage today. It is different than, but highly suggestive of our recent report about the Univesity of Iowa discovery of “Oxidized CaKMII inhibition” as a therapeutic target for atrial arrhythmia.

Oxidized Calcium Calmodulin Kinase and Atrial Fibrillation
Author: Larry H. Bernstein, MD, FCAP, and Curator: Aviva Lev-Ari, PhD, RN
This is a review of a recent work from the laboratory of Mark E. Anderson and associates at the University of Iowa.  We have covered the role of CaMKII in calcium signaling and myocardiocyte contraction, as well as signaling in smooth muscle, skeletal muscle, and nerve transmission.  There are tissue specific modus operandi, partly related to the ryanogen receptor, and also related to tissue specific isoenzymes of CaMKII.  There is much ground that has been traversed in exploring these mechanisms, most recently, the discoverey of hormone triggering by the release from vesicles at the nerve muscle junction, and much remains open to investigation.  The recently published work by Mark E. Anderson and associates in Mannheim and Heidelberg, Germany, clarifies the relationship between the oxidized form of CaMKII and the triggering of atrial fibrillation. The following studies show:
  • Ang II infusion increased the susceptibility of mice to AF induction by rapid right atrial pacing and established a framework for us to test the hypothesized role of ox-CaMKII in promoting AF. ox-CaMKII is critical for AF.
    • Established a critical role of ox-CaMKII in promoting AF
  • Ang II induced increases in ROS production seen in WT atria were absent in atria from MsrA TG mice suggesting that MsrA sensitive targets represent an important component of Ang II mediated atrial oxidation.
    • The protection from AF in MsrA TG mice appeared to be independent of pressor effects that are critical for the proarrhythmic actions.
  • These findings suggest that NADPH oxidase dependent ROS and elevated ox-CaMKII
    • drive Ang II -pacing-induced AF and that
  • targeted antioxidant therapy, by MsrA over-expression,
    • can reduce or prevent AF in Ang -II-infused mice.
Atrial myocytes from Ang II treated WT mice showed a significant (p<0.05) increase in spontaneous Ca2+ sparks compared to atrial myocytes from saline treated control mice
In contrast to findings in WT mice, the atrial myocytes isolated from Ang II treated MM-VV mice did not show an increase in Ca2+ sparks compared to saline treated MM-VV mice
These data to suggest that  in ox–the proarrhythmic effects of Ang II infusion depend upon an increaseCaMKII, sarcoplasmic reticulum Ca2+ leak and DADs.
Enhanced CaMKII-mediated phosphorylation of serine 2814 on RyR2
  • is associated with an increased susceptibility to acquired arrhythmias, including AF
Proarrhythmic actions of ox-CaMKII
  • require access to RyR2 serine 2814.
Mutant S2814A knock-in mice (lacking serine 2814) were highly resistant to Ang II mediated AF
AC3-I mice with transgenic myocardial expression of a CaMKII inhibitory peptide were also resistant to the proarrhythmic effects of Ang II infusion on pacing-induced AF
S2814A, AC3-I and WT mice, all developed similar BP increases and cardiac hypertrophy in response to Ang II, indicating that
  • these mice were not resistant to the hemodynamic effects of Ang II, but were nevertheless protected from AF.
selectively targeted antioxidant therapies could be effective in preventing or reducing AF
half of patients enrolled in the Mode Selection Trial (MOST) with sinus node dysfunction had a history of AF
Ang II and diabetes-induced CaMKII oxidation caused sinus node dysfunction by increased pacemaker cell death and fibrosis
 ox-CaMKII increases susceptibility for AF via increased diastolic sarcoplasmic reticulum Ca2+ release
clinical association between sinus node dysfunction and AF might have a mechanistic basis because
  • sinus node dysfunction and AF are downstream consequences of elevated ox-CaMKII.
We refer the reader to the following related articles published in pharmaceutical Intelligence:
  1. Contributions to cardiomyocyte interactions and signaling
    Author and Curator: Larry H Bernstein, MD, FCAP  and Curator: Aviva Lev-Ari, PhD, RN
  2. Cardiac Contractility & Myocardium Performance: Therapeutic Implications for Ryanopathy (Calcium Release-related Contractile Dysfunction) and Catecholamine Responses
    Editor: Justin Pearlman, MD, PhD, FACC, Author and Curator: Larry H Bernstein, MD, FCAP, and Article Curator: Aviva Lev-Ari, PhD, RN
  3. Part I. Identification of Biomarkers that are Related to the Actin Cytoskeleton
    Curator and Writer: Larry H Bernstein, MD, FCAP
  4. Part II: Role of Calcium, the Actin Skeleton, and Lipid Structures in Signaling and Cell Motility
    Larry H. Bernstein, MD, FCAP, Stephen Williams, PhD and Aviva Lev-Ari, PhD, RN
  5. Part IV: The Centrality of Ca(2+) Signaling and Cytoskeleton Involving Calmodulin Kinases and Ryanodine Receptors in Cardiac Failure, Arterial Smooth Muscle, Post-ischemic Arrhythmia, Similarities and Differences, and Pharmaceutical Targets
    Larry H Bernstein, MD, FCAP, Justin Pearlman, MD, PhD, FACC and Aviva Lev-Ari, PhD, RN
  6. Part VI: Calcium Cycling (ATPase Pump) in Cardiac Gene Therapy: Inhalable Gene Therapy for Pulmonary Arterial Hypertension and Percutaneous Intra-coronary Artery Infusion for Heart Failure: Contributions by Roger J. Hajjar, MD
    Aviva Lev-Ari, PhD, RN
  7. Part VII: Cardiac Contractility & Myocardium Performance: Ventricular Arrhythmias and Non-ischemic Heart Failure – Therapeutic Implications for Cardiomyocyte Ryanopathy (Calcium Release-related Contractile Dysfunction) and Catecholamine Responses
    Justin Pearlman, MD, PhD, FACC, Larry H Bernstein, MD, FCAP and Aviva Lev-Ari, PhD, RN
  8. Part VIII: Disruption of Calcium Homeostasis: Cardiomyocytes and Vascular Smooth Muscle Cells: The Cardiac and Cardiovascular Calcium Signaling Mechanism
    Justin Pearlman, MD, PhD, FACC, Larry H Bernstein, MD, FCAP and Aviva Lev-Ari, PhD, RN
  9. Part IX: Calcium-Channel Blockers, Calcium Release-related Contractile Dysfunction (Ryanopathy) and Calcium as Neurotransmitter Sensor
    Justin Pearlman, MD, PhD, FACC, Larry H Bernstein, MD, FCAP and Aviva Lev-Ari, PhD, RN
  10. Part X: Synaptotagmin functions as a Calcium Sensor: How Calcium Ions Regulate the fusion of vesicles with cell membranes during Neurotransmission
    Larry H Bernstein, MD, FCAP and Aviva Lev-Ari, PhD, RN
  11. Genetic Analysis of Atrial Fibrillation
    Author and Curator: Larry H Bernstein, MD, FCAP ,  and Curator: Aviva-Lev Ari, PhD, RN
This article is a followup of the wonderful study of the effect of oxidation of a methionine residue in calcium dependent-calmodulin kinase Ox-CaMKII on stabilizing the atrial cardiomyocyte, giving protection from atrial fibrillation.  It is also not so distant from the work reviewed, mostly on the ventricular myocyte and the calcium signaling by initiation of the ryanodyne receptor (RyR2) in calcium sparks and the CaMKIId isoenzyme.

Diabetes: Mouse Studies Point to Kinase as Treatment Target

Published: Nov 24, 2013
By Kristina Fiore, Staff Writer, MedPage Today
Targeting a pathway that plays a major role in both hepatic glucose production and insulin sensitivity may eventually help treat type 2 diabetes, researchers reported.
In a series of experiments in mice, researchers found that inhibition of the kinase CaKMII — or even some of its downstream components — lowered blood glucose and insulin levels, Ira Tabas, MD, PhD, of Columbia University Medical Center in New York City, and colleagues reported online in Cell Metabolism.
The pathway is activated by glucagon signaling in the liver, and appears to have roles in both insulin resistance as well as hepatic glucose production in the liver.
In an earlier study, Tabas and colleagues showed that inhibiting the CaKMII pathway lowered hepatic glucose production by suppressing p38-mediated FoxO1 nuclear localization.
In the current study, they found CaKMII inhibition suppresses levels of the pseudo-kinase TRB3 to improve Akt-phosphorylation, thereby improving insulin sensitivity.
Thus this single pathway targets “two cardinal features of type 2 diabetes — hyperglycemia and defective insulin signaling,” the researchers wrote.
“When we realized we had one common pathway that was responsible for these two disparate processes that, in essence, comprises all of type 2 diabetes, we though it would be an ideal target for new drug therapy,” Tabas told MedPage Today.
Tabas and colleagues conducted several experiments to evaluate the CaKMII pathway.
In one experiment in obese mice, they found that no matter how CaKMII was knocked out, it led to lower blood glucose levels and lower fasting plasma insulin levels in response to a glucose challenge.
The improvements also occurred when they
  • knocked out downstream processes, including p38 and MAPK-activating protein kinase 2 (MK2).
“Thus liver p38 and MK2, like CaKMII, play an important role in the development of hyperglycemia and hyperinsulinemia in obese mice,” they wrote.
In further analyses, the researchers discovered deleting or inhibiting any of these three elements ultimately
  • improved insulin-induced Akt-phosphorylation in obese mice —
  • an important part of improving insulin sensitivity.
And unlike the effects on hepatic glucose production,
  • these changes didn’t occur through effects on FoxO1.
Instead, inhibiting the CaKMII pathway suppressed levels of the pseudo-kinase TRB3, which likely occurred because of
  • suppression of ATF4 — all of which led to an
  • increase in Akt-phosphorylation and insulin sensitivity.
Indeed, when mice were made to overexpress TRB3, the improvement in phosphorylation disappeared, “indicating that
  • the suppression of TRB3 by CaKMII deficiency is
  • causally important in the improvement in insulin signaling,
As a result, there “appear to be two separate CaKMII pathways”,
  1. one involved in CaKMII-p38-FoxO1 dependent hepatic glucose production, and
  2. the other involved in defective insulin-induced p-Akt,
The findings suggest the possibility of a drug that can target
  • both hyperglycemia and insulin resistance in type 2 diabetes
The authors have started developing such an agent. Although kinases can act very generally, Tabas said he and colleagues are working on
  • an allosteric version that will more specifically target MK2
  • by binding to a site that is unique to this enzyme.
He said this should help to avoid problems with drugs that targeted p38 but ultimately failed, with little efficacy and too many side effects.
The reason for this is now known at a very detailed level –
  • when you inhibit p38 by that mechanism, mainly by inhibiting MK2,
  • you avoid the adverse effects,
“When we realized all of this and had to make a choice [for further development], the obvious choice was MK2.”
  • CaKMII inhibitors are in development for heart failure and
  • MK2 inhibitors are being looked at as an alternative to p38 inhibitors for inflammatory diseases.
Tabas also said the drug may be valuable in treating prediabetes, since early data have suggested that
  • CaKMII is generally overactive in obese patients
  • who have not yet progressed to full blown diabetes, but is not overactive in lean people.
“One of the areas we’re most excited about in potential clinical use is in obese people before they get diabetic,” Tabas told MedPage Today. “There are hundreds of millions of people who are obese but not yet diabetic even though
  • they have the hallmarks that they’re going to get diabetes.”
This recent publication was reported in MedPage Today. [CaKMII overactivity in obesity]  Tabas noted that his group’s early human data “suggest that our pathway is turned on in prediabetes. If we can block that pathway before people get diabetes, it would even be better.”
The study was supported by the NIH, the American Heart Association, the German Center for Cardiovascular Research, the German Ministry of Education and Research, and the European Union.
Tabas and a co-author are among the founders of  Tabomedex Biosciences, which is developing MK2 inhibitors.
Primary source: Cell Metabolism
Source reference: Ozcan L, et al. “Activation of calcium/calmodulin-dependent protein kinase II in obesity mediates suppression of hepatic insulin signaling” Cell Metab 2013.

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