Can a BH4 supplement help prevent diabetic cardiomyopathy?

An unexpected role of tetrahydrobiopterin (BH4) in diabetic cardiomyopathy  

Ricardo Carnicer Hijazo (lead researcher)

Oxford, University of

Start date: 01 August 2015 (Duration 4 years)

BHF Intermediate Basic Science Research Fellow Dr Ricardo Carnicer is studying ways to treat diabetic cardiomyopathy. The condition is specific to people with diabetes and affects the pumping ability of heart muscle, which can lead to heart failure. Scientists don’t yet understand what causes this condition and it has a poor prognosis, so we need to find ways to treat it.

Dr Carnicer’s team at the University of Oxford has found that increasing the level of a protein called tetrahydrobiopterin (BH4) in the hearts of mice keeps the left ventricle functioning well. Unexpectedly, BH4 appears to work by improving the way the heart uses energy. Dr Carnicer has also discovered that oral BH4 supplements increase BH4 in the hearts of people having heart surgery.

In this project, Dr Carnicer is investigating how BH4 protects the heart in diabetes. BH4 is already given to patients with a condition called phenylketonuria, therefore it could be made available to people with diabetes earlier than a novel treatment.

This research will reveal how oral BH4 supplementation could help to prevent or treat diabetic cardiomyopathy in people with diabetes. By better understanding the how BH4 works, it may be possible to say whether BH4 could also benefit people with other heart diseases that affect how the heart uses energy.

Project details

Grant amount £481,114
Grant type Fellowship
Application type Intermediate Basic Science Research Fellowship
Start Date 01 August 2015
Duration 4 years
Reference FS/15/15/31364
Status In progress

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