News | Pharmaceuticals | January 09, 2020

Fruit Fly Hearts Show How to Keep Human Cardiac Muscle Young

This image shows the cardiac muscle fibers of a fruit fly under magnification. Iowa State University researchers have found a way to restore the strength and regularity of cardiac muscles in aging fruit flies. Photo by Hua Bai, Iowa State University.

This image shows the cardiac muscle fibers of a fruit fly under magnification. Iowa State University researchers have found a way to restore the strength and regularity of cardiac muscles in aging fruit flies. Photo by Hua Bai, Iowa State University.


January 9, 2020 – Researchers may have discovered a way to turn back the clock on aging heart muscles in fruit flies, a development that could lead to new therapies for older humans with heart disease.

Hua Bai, Ph.D., an assistant professor of genetics, development and cell biology at Iowa State University, led a study, published recently in the academic journal Autophagy, that explores the genetic mechanism that causes fly cardiac muscles to deteriorate with age. Bai said the research team restored much of the cardiac function in middle-aged flies, which experience many of the same heart maladies as middle-aged humans.

The researchers’ approach starts with autophagy, a cellular “cleanup process” that removes and recycles damaged proteins and organelles. The autophagy process slows with age, which can lead to the weakening of cardiac muscles. Bai’s research team looked at a key genetic pathway conserved in virtually all organisms on Earth related to autophagy that balances organism growth with nutrient intake. This pathway, called mechanistic target of rapamycin (or mTOR), has long been linked to tissue aging, Bai said. One of two complexes that underlie the mTOR pathway, referred to as mTORC2, decreases with age as autophagy declines. But the researchers found that transgenically boosting mTORC2 strengthens heart muscles of older fruit flies.

“Boosting the complex almost fully restored heart function,” Bai said.

How Fruit Flies May Help Treat Human Hearts

The discovery that enhancing mTORC2 slows the decline of the critical autophagy process could have big implications for how doctors treat patients with heart disease, one of the leading causes of the death in the United States. While flies and humans might seem to be worlds apart evolutionarily, Bai said the two species’ hearts age in a similar fashion. By middle age, cardiac muscles in both species tend to contract with less strength and regularity.

“The fly model can be useful for developing drug target discoveries that could have a big impact on human health,” Bai said.

The researchers arrived at their conclusions after conducting thousands of video recordings on cardiac muscles in fruit flies of various ages. High-resolution, high-speed cameras measured the activity of the flies’ cardiac muscles. The experiments showed that boosting mTORC2 could restore a five-to-six-week-old fly’s heart function to that of a fly between one and two weeks old. That’s like restoring a middle-aged heart to how it functioned during young adulthood, Bai said.

Because flies live only between two and three months, it’s much easier for scientists to study aging and longevity in flies than in more long-lived species, he said.  And the ability to manipulate the fly genome also makes them ideal for genetic study and a common model organism, he said.

See the original study

 

Reference:

1. Kai Chang, Ping Kang, Ying Liu, et al. TGFB-INHB/activin signaling regulates age-dependent autophagy and cardiac health through inhibition of MTORC2. Autophagy. Published online: 29 Dec 2019. https://doi.org/10.1080/15548627.2019.1704117.

 

Related Content

News | Cardiac Diagnostics

November 10, 2021 — Abbott released new global market research from its Beyond Intervention initiative, the company’s ...

Home November 10, 2021
Home
Feature | Cardiac Diagnostics | By Dave Fornell, DAIC Editor

October 29, 2021 — A new guideline for the evaluation and diagnosis of chest pain was released this week that provides ...

Home October 29, 2021
Home
News | Cardiac Diagnostics

October 4, 2021 – Nanowear, a hospital-at-home and remote diagnostic platform that used proprietary wearable cloth ...

Home October 04, 2021
Home
News | Cardiac Diagnostics

September 28, 2021 — Biotricity Inc., a medical diagnostic and consumer healthcare technology company, has developed a ...

Home September 28, 2021
Home
News | Cardiac Diagnostics

July 29, 2021 — A recent clinical study from Overlake Medical Center utilizing the Bardy Diagnostics Carnation ...

Home July 29, 2021
Home
News | Cardiac Diagnostics

July 1, 2021 — The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has cleared the Angel Medical Systems Inc. second-generation ...

Home July 01, 2021
Home
News | Cardiac Diagnostics

March 8, 2021 — In a new study from Shiley Eye Institute at UC San Diego Health, researchers have identified a potential ...

Home March 08, 2021
Home
News | Cardiac Diagnostics

March 3, 2021 — AliveCor recently announced a new collaboration with AstraZeneca to research new disease management ...

Home March 03, 2021
Home
News | Cardiac Diagnostics

February 2, 2021 — A new study has found in the U.S. shows higher economic prosperity was associated with a small ...

Home February 02, 2021
Home
News | Cardiac Diagnostics

January 6, 2021 — Smoking traditional cigarettes in addition to using e-cigarettes results in harmful health effects ...

Home January 06, 2021
Home
Subscribe Now