A gene called HOX9 has been shown to limit the ability of adult muscle stem cells to regenerate themselves, according to research appearing in Nature. The work, with funding from the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute, may be a therapeutic target for improving regenerative medicine.
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Ever wonder why some people become heavy drinkers while others are able to do so in moderation? That answer may be in our genes. Researchers are reporting the discovery of a gene, called beta-Klotho, that seems to regulate our ability to drink alcohol. In lab studies, they found that mice engineered to lack this gene drank more than normal mice. Using records of more than 100,000 people of European descent, the researchers also found that people with a version of this gene drink less alcohol on average. The finding could lead to new treatments for people with alcohol use disorders, they say. The study is partly funded by NHLBI and appears in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
Exercise has long-been associated with health benefits, including cancer prevention, but the molecular mechanisms underlying this association are unclear. Researchers are now reporting the identification of a molecular mechanism that could help explain this association. In lab studies using genetically modified mice, scientists demonstrated that two proteins, called FOXO3 and CHCHD4, appear to interact together to boost the activity of p53, a protein well-known to suppress tumors, during exercise. The study, funded by NHLBI, appears in The Journal of Biological Chemistry.
An NHLBI-funded study has confirmed what we have been hearing for a long time: Saturated fats are strongly linked to increased heart disease. The research published in the BMJ suggests that replacing as little as one percent of daily calories from red meat, butter and other dairy products with vegetables, olive oil, fish or wholegrain carbs reduces the heart disease risk by 4-8 percent.
According to an NHLBI-funded study, abdominal aortic aneurysms repairs were twice as common in the U.S. than in England. The findings, published in the New England Journal of Medicine, also show that English patients were more likely to die or be hospitalized due to an aneurysm. The data raise questions regarding potential improvement in outcomes in England with the adoption of U.S. repair thresholds, researchers suggested.
A new study funded by NHLBI has found that a class of blood pressure medications, thiazide diuretics, could help reduce the risk of hip and pelvic fractures. The findings, published in JAMA Internal Medicine, show the protective effects of these drugs as compared to other anti-hypertensive medications, but researchers caution that thiazides may not be the first choice for every patient.
Using a powerful new tool that can tag blood stem cells and their clones (copies) with distinctive colors, researchers are reporting an improvement in their ability to track these cells over time to better understand how blood disorders and cancers form. The researchers used zebrafish that were bred to contain genes for red, blue, and green fluorescent proteins throughout its genome (an organism’s complete set of DNA). By activating certain enzymes in the zebrafish embryos, the scientists demonstrated that they could produce a wide spectrum of colors that enable researchers to mark each stem cell with a different color and follow each cell through development. This color-coding tool will allow researchers to better track what happens to the stem cells over time and under different conditions, including the number of cells and cell types that form, the scientists say. The study, funded partly by NHLBI, appeared in Nature Cell Biology.
Researchers are reporting new insights into how asymmetric cell division, in which daughter cells develop differently, can help control how blood vessels grow. The finding might have implications in understanding how blood vessels form during embryonic development, wound healing, and cancer spread. In lab studies that combined experimentation with zebrafish and computer modeling, the researchers showed that asymmetric cell division generates different-sized daughter cells and that this size differential can help guide collective cell migration during angiogenesis, or blood vessel growth. The study, funded partly by NHLBI, appeared in Nature Cell Biology.
An NHLBI-funded study shows that people who carry genetic variants linked to heart disease are four to six times more likely to develop the condition, even without family history. Published in Science Translational Medicine, the findings are important because there is scant data on how genetic mutations increase risk of certain diseases in the general population, which has led to debates as to the benefits of widespread genetic testing.
The U.S. saw an almost 20 percent decline in cases of coronary heart disease from 1983 to 2011, according to a study published in JAMA. The researchers examined data from five large NHLBI studies that followed individuals for up to 12 years. These findings highlight the importance of continued prevention efforts targeting heart disease risk factors, researchers said.