OSAKA, Japan, Oct. 31 (UPI) -- Researchers at Osaka University have identified a protein in a study they say sheds light on potential new treatments for heart failure.
The protein, known as Btg2, was found to restrain the expansion of cells in the heart. The research team says the discovery provides greater understanding of how oversized cells can be prevented in heart muscle, a phenomenon which has been linked to heart failure. Their paper was published in the journal Scientific Reports.
During the study, investigators determined Btg2 is a regulator for cardiomyocyte hypertrophy, the expansion or thickening of heart muscle cells. The team observed the protein's effects by imaging single cells.
"We first focused on the targets of the protein Myc, which is known to increase the size and anabolic activity of cardiomyocytes," study author Shuichiro Hiro explained in a press release. "We found that Btg2 was especially strongly induced by Myc, but that these two proteins had opposite effects on the level of RNA in these cells. This suggests they are on opposing sides of a system regulating protein production and cell size."
The protein Myc was found to promote RNA synthesis, resulting in cardiac hypertrophy. By contrast, Btg2 negatively regulated RNA amounts in response.
The research team maintains contemporary prognosis for heart failure is in dire need of improvement, and suggests their findings can help develop more effective therapeutic methods.