Honokiol activates SIRT3, a protective protein, which effectively blocks induction and progression of cardiac hypertrophy, according to Associate Professor Mahesh Gupta. He described how this ancient remedy, widely used in Asia for centuries, protects the heart.
Hypertrophy is a thickening of cardiac muscle often caused by chronic high blood pressure that can lead to heart failure.
Gupta, director of the Cardiac Cell Biology Research Program at University of Chicago and study's author, said that they found the natural compound, honokiol, derived from the bark of the magnolia tree activates SIRT3, a protective protein associated with delayed aging, stress resistance and metabolic regulation.
When injected into mice, it reduced the excess growth of individual cardiac muscle cells, decreased ventricular wall thickness and prevented the accumulation of interstitial fibrosis, a stiffening of cardiac muscle cells that reduces their ability to contract. It also protected heart muscle cells from the damage caused by oxidative stress, which can damage DNA. It even mitigated pre-existing cardiac hypertrophy, he added.
The results, the authors wrote, suggest pharmacological activation of SIRT3 by honokiol could be "a potential therapeutic strategy to prevent adverse cardiac remodeling and other diseases associated with abnormal cellular growth and organ fibrosis."
Gupta said that they were working to design a clinical trial involving patients with cardiac hypertrophy and potentially other metabolic diseases, such as type 2 diabetes. The study is reported in the online journal Nature Communications