New Study Uncovers a Critical Link Between Inflammation and Heart Disease

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Chronic inflammation, also called inflammaging, may be causing your heart muscle to change. These changes could lead to heart failure.

Heart disease killed nearly 700,000 people in 2022, according to the CDC. Finding cellular factors that lead to heart disease could allow scientists to develop more effective treatments.

Chronic inflammation increases the likelihood of heart disease. Yet, the exact cellular mechanism behind why has been eluding scientists.

A new study published in the Journal of Clinical Investigation made an important discovery. Dr. Andrew Advani, the senior author of the study, and his team found a key mechanism that affects how inflammation remodels heart muscle. Their finding brings us even closer to being able to reverse heart disease.

The goal of the study performed by Dr. Advani’s group was to figure out how immune cells change the remodeling of heart muscle and function. To do so, the group used mouse models and exposed them to conditions that promoted inflammation. Then, they analyzed the tissue of the hearts for specific proteins in the heart muscle cells.
Within the heart muscle cells, there are proteins that need to be turned over, or replaced as they are broken down by the cell. When there is chronic inflammation, the turnover of these proteins can be disrupted.

Advani’s group found a specific gene that changes protein turnover. Its name is ISG15.

ISG15 modifies proteins through a process called post-translational modification. That is basically a fancy phrase that means proteins are changed after the cell creates them.
Modifying cells after they are created is important. It helps them have more roles in the cell. Yet sometimes it can be a terrible thing. In the case of chronic inflammation and ISG15, it is.

With chronic inflammation, ISG15 can change proteins in heart muscle cells to cause the cells to stop working properly. This remodels the heart muscle cells and can lead to heart disease.

In an article by Medical Xpress, Dr. Advani said, “This is a new idea, that this particular post-translational modification caused by inflammation can affect the functioning of heart muscle and cause heart failure. The discovery opens up a whole new field of heart failure research.”

Although this research is in the preliminary stages, it is promising. It laid the groundwork for discovering new ways to identify people at risk of developing heart disease. It opens the door for the development of new treatments, including ways to prevent ISG15 from affecting your heart muscles.

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  • Yerra, V. G., Batchu, S. N., Kaur, H., Kabir, M. D. G., Liu, Y., Advani, S. L., Tran, D. T., Sadeghian, S., Sedrak, P., Billia, F., Kuzmanov, U., Gramolini, A. O., Qasrawi, D. O., Petrotchenko, E. V., Borchers, C. H., Connelly, K. A., & Advani, A. (2023). Pressure overload induces ISG15 to facilitate adverse ventricular remodeling and promote heart failure. The Journal of clinical investigation, 133(9), e161453. Read it here.
  • Ahmad FB, Cisewski JA, Xu J, Anderson RN. Provisional Mortality Data — United States, 2022. MMWR Morb Mortal Wkly Rep 2023;72:488–492. Read it here.
  • St. Michael’s Hospital. (2023) How does inflammation cause heart failure? New study reveals insights. Medical Xpress. Read it here.

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Daniel Chantigian
Daniel Chantigian, MS
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When it comes to complex scientific or medical topics, Daniel can successfully communicate with any audience via writing, social media, lecturing, and one-on-one discussions. Over the past decade, he developed these skills as a researcher at the University of Minnesota and the Mayo Clinic, as a lecturer at the University...

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