Scientists have identified how two proteins control the growth of heart and its adaptation to high blood pressure that can help design new strategies to treat heart failure caused by excessive growth of the heart.
The research, carried out by lead investigator Guadalupe Sabio from the National Centre for Cardiovascular Research (CNIC) in Spain, shows for the first time that two proteins - p38 gamma and p38 delta - control heart growth.
"This new information could help in the design of new strategies to combat heart conditions caused by anomalous growth of heart muscle," said Sabio in a paper in the journal Nature Communications. The heart adapts to the changing needs of each stage of life by adjusting its size.
Understanding the molecular processes that regulate heart function and growth is, therefore, of immense importance. Sabio's team found that p38 gamma and p38 delta regulate the growth of the left ventricle -- the largest and strongest heart chamber -- responsible for pumping oxygenated blood to the body.
The research team showed that the hearts of mice lacking these proteins are smaller than normal. These hearts, although they function normally, are incapable of responding to external stimuli, such as high blood pressure. The discovery advances understanding of the mechanisms through which heart cells grow and adapt.