Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine researchers have identified a major indicator of two deadly diseases of the heart and blood vessels: heart failure and aortic aneurysm.
The absence of the Kruppel-like Factor 15 (KLF15), when combined with stress, leads to both heart failure and aortic aneurysms. The genetic factor, KLF15, protects the heart and aorta’s ability to maintain structural and functional integrity. Patients with these diseases were found to have reduced levels of the protective gene, and in an animal study, the researchers proved that deficiency of this single gene predisposes one to these cardiovascular diseases. Furthermore, they show that KLF15 exerts its protective effects in the heart and aorta through a common molecular mechanism. Lastly, the researchers show that drugs targeting this molecular pathway can be used to treat heart failure and aortic aneurysms. The unprecedented findings are published in the April 7th online edition of Science Translational Medicine, an American Association for the Advancement of Science publication.
All the blood circulating through the human body must be pumped out by the heart and flow though the aorta. These two vital organs must maintain structural integrity in the face of mechanical and biochemical stress, otherwise lethal consequences such as heart failure, aortic aneurysms, and aortic dissection can develop. While it has been known that diseases of the heart and aorta can co-exist, for example in Marfan’s syndrome, pregnancy, aging, and growth hormone excess, the cardiovascular diseases are typically treated independently. The identification of shared molecular mechanism offers new promise for current and future treatment options.
“This is very rare to find a singular genetic factor that governs the response of the entire cardiovascular system. Our research proves KLF15 governs the shared diseases of the heart and blood vessels,” says Mukesh K. Jain, M.D., F.A.H.A., senior author of the study and Director of the Case Cardiovascular Research Institute at Case Western Reserve University and the Chief Research Officer for the Harrington Heart & Vascular Institute at University Hospitals Case Medical Center. In 2002, while at Brigham and Women’s Hospital/Harvard Medical School, Dr. Jain and his team of researchers discovered KLF15.
Read the full article at CWRUmedicine.org