In a breakthrough, researchers have identified a gene that appears to reduce the risk of heart failure and improve treatment outcomes.
This gene could also be a possible target for the development of new drugs.
In the study, researchers at Stanford University Medical Center genotyped heart-failure patients at the extremes of responses i.e. those who had the best and worst responses to therapy. The team searched for genetic variants associated with heart health.
Senior author Ashley said that they found this new receptor that looked very promising and they went on to validate it in another data set, explore its mechanism in cellular models and then test the effect in several different mouse models.
Using a mouse model that mimics heart failure through artificially elevated levels of adrenaline, they found that if they gave orexin to the mice with failing hearts, those mice showed better systolic heart function than did mice that did not receive orexin.
Ultrasounds showed that these mice had greater diastolic heart dysfunction, another hint suggesting that the receptor was important for healthy hearts.
Lead author Perez said that this gene was in a completely different neurohormonal axis, adding that nobody had ever studied heart function in relation to this gene.
The study is published in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology.