A research team, including an Indian-origin boffin, has shown in a study of mice that one sirtuin protein, SIRT3, helps protect the heart.
Previous studies have shown that sirtuin proteins promote longevity in many organisms, and overexpression of SIRT3 has been linked to increased human lifespan.
In the new study, Mahesh Gupta and colleagues at the University of Chicago found that the heart of mice lacking Sirt3 showed signs of becoming enlarged (a process known as cardiac hypertrophy), at about 8 weeks of age.
Further, these mice responded dramatically to conditions that induce cardiac hypertrophy.
On the other hand, mice overexpressing Sirt3 were protected from cardiac hypertrophy under the same conditions.
Additional analysis revealed the mechanism by which Sirt3 blocks the cardiac hypertrophic response, thereby providing protection to the mouse heart.
Specifically, it acts in heart muscle cells via the protein Foxo3a to increase expression of anti-oxidant proteins, thereby reducing levels of damaging oxidants.