Friday, June 21, 2024

Scientists investigate new approach to age-induced heart disease

Melbourne researchers are working towards the development of a new class of drugs to regulate blood pressure and age-associated changes in cardiovascular function.

It is widely recognised that inflammation plays a central role in the development and progression of several chronic cardiovascular diseases and accounts for 40% of all deaths in elderly patients. However, scientists have not yet fully grasped how ongoing inflammation during middle age might worsen heart health as people continue to age.

The team of researchers, spearheaded by the Monash Institute of Pharmaceutical Sciences (MIPS) in collaboration with the Baker Heart and Diabetes Institute, embarked on a mission to explore how the naturally-occurring protein ‘annexin A1 (ANXA1)’ could potentially shield against the detrimental effects of ageing on blood pressure and cardiovascular health.

Lead author, MIPS lab head and National Heart Foundation Future Fellow Dr Chengxue Helena Qin said the role of naturally-occurring pro-resolving mediators, such as ANXA1, in slowing down the progression of age-related cardiovascular diseases has not been widely explored until now.

“In mice, our preclinical studies concluded that ANXA1 could play a critical role in controlling blood pressure, how well your heart works, and even stopping heart problems from getting worse,” said Dr Qin.

“The research revealed that middle-aged mice lacking ANXA1 experienced more inflammation and damage in their hearts and blood vessels. This indicates that untreated inflammation might play a role in causing heart and blood vessel problems as we age. Consequently, it could open up new possibilities for treating high blood pressure and preventing heart issues linked to ageing.”

Co-senior author Professor Owen Woodman, a Professor in the Heart Failure Pharmacology and Cardiovascular Pharmacology labs at MIPS, said, “This study suggests that unresolved inflammation may contribute to cardiovascular dysfunction in ageing, and therefore could present a new therapeutic opportunity to regulate blood pressure and prevent age-associated cardiovascular disease.”

First author and MIPS PhD candidate, Jaideep Singh, said previous attempts to treat cardiovascular diseases by suppressing inflammation have been met with limited success.

“We hypothesised that rather than tackling inflammation once cardiovascular diseases have already arisen, a more productive approach is to resolve inflammation as nature’s way to prevent or reverse the progression of cardiovascular diseases,” said Mr Singh.  

“As such, we focused on ANXA1 due to its ability to heal inflammation in nature’s way.”

“Overall, our data reveal compelling new insights for the potential development of ANXA1-nature’s way to treat cardiovascular diseases, especially in an ageing population.”

The study was published in the journal Federation of American Societies of Experimental Biology and funded by the National Heart Foundation. 

Click here to read the full study.

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