April 25, 2012
BHF Professor finds heart failure clue
Professor Kinya Otsu has made an important discovery about heart
failure, a condition affecting more than 750,000 people in the
Patients with heart failure are
unable to pump blood around the body stongly enough, which can
result in symptoms including tiredness and shortness of
breath. People affected can
struggle with even the most basic exercise, such as walking to the
shops or even making a cup of tea.
Professor Otsu, who is part of our
Centre of Research Excellence at Kings
College, University of London, is a leading international
expert in some of the underlying problems in heart
failure. In this study, his team made a new discovery
about inflammation - a problematic build-up of immune
cells in the heart that plays a key role in heart failure. The
study is published in top journal Nature.
His team showed that in mice, this problematic build-up of
immune cells can actually be caused by our body's own
DNA. The culprit DNA comes from structures in heart
cells called mitochondria, which produce the energy the heart needs
When the heart is under stress, such as during heart failure,
this DNA can escape from the mitochondria into the
main body of heart cells. Once escaped, it can cause immune cells
to gather in the heart, making heart failure worse.
The discovery points towards possible new future
treatments in people who suffer from heart failure.
This intriguing discovery is an important breakthrough
Advisor Dr Shannon Amoils said: “This
important breakthrough in our understanding of why, during heart
failure, the immune system becomes activated without the presence
of any obvious external threat.
"This research points towards new avenues of
exploration that could hopefully lead to treatments for
heart failure in the future.”
Thanks to our supporters, we were recently able to announce
funding of more than £3 million for Professor
Otsu's team. Their pioneering work offers real hope of finding new
treatments for heart failure.