UMG researchers are unravelling important functional aspects of “broken-heart syndrome”

It is an acute and life-threatening functional disturbance of the heart with symptoms similar to a heart attack, and it really is not so rare: Takotsubo syndrome (TTS) is also called “broken-heart syndrome” because it can also occur when a person experiences intense physical or emotional stress such as the loss or death of a loved one.

The underlying mechanism of this disease is still unknown, but scientists assume that a beta-adrenergic-mediated impairment of cardiac muscle cell function may be implicated in its etiology and that also a genetic predisposition may be involved. At the Heart Center Göttingen, researchers led by Dr Katrin Streckfuss-Bömeke are intensely working on elucidating the pathogenic mechanisms of this syndrome. In their study, they reprogrammed somatic cells of patients with TTS to induced pluripotent stem cells, which were then differentiated into cardiomyocytes. The researchers then treated these cells with catecholamines, thereby simulating an excessive release of stress hormones in the patient. They found that in the cell model similar molecular reactions occurred as in TTS patients, as for example beta-adrenergic signaling was enhanced. This cell model thus allows to investigate in detail the molecular and cellular processes in cardiomyocytes in order to unravel the pathomechanisms of the broken-heart syndrome. In addition to the functional investigations, genetic analyses were performed in close cooperation with the Institute of Human Genetics to shed light on the genetic background of the disease.

The results of the functional and initial genetic analyses of this study have been published in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology.

Catecholamine-Dependent β-Adrenergic Signaling in a Pluripotent Stem Cell Model of Takotsubo Cardiomyopathy
Borchert T, Hübscher D, Guessoum CI, Lam TD, Ghadri JR, Schellinger IN, Tiburcy M, Liaw NY, Li Y, Haas J, Sossalla S, Huber MA, Cyganek L, Jacobshagen C, Dressel R, Raaz U, Nikolaev VO, Guan K, Thiele H, Meder B, Wollnik B, Zimmermann WH, Lüscher TF, Hasenfuss G, Templin C, Streckfuss-Bömeke K
J Am Coll Cardiol. 2017 Aug 22;70(8):975-991. doi: 10.1016/j.jacc.2017.06.061.

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