Fruit Flies and Human Aging? "Cardiac-specific overexpression of dFOXO mitigates age-associated decline in cardiac performance in the Drosophila model" Friday, March 21, 7pm
Turns out that fruit flies have enough in common (homologies) with humans to study both functioning (and broken) hearts. (sorry about the joke. . . couldn't think of a good way to work in Vincent Price) We have Anna Blice-Baum, PhD, a Postdoctoral Fellow at Johns Hopkins to tell us something about her recent findings. In Dr Blice-Baum's words:
"As humans age, the risk for disease, including cardiovascular disease (CVD), increases due to changes in overall cell function over time. Our muscles become weaker and lose elasticity, and our hearts may become stiffer and work harder to pump the same amount of blood through our bodies. Because of the loss of function of many cells with senescence, aging can be viewed as a disease that can be “cured” if we find the right formula for allowing cells to function properly indefinitely. Here, we have studied the effect of aging on myocardial stiffening and cardiac dysfunction in the aging hearts of Drosophila Melanogaster, an ideal model for studying the aging heart due to its short lifespan and ease of genetic manipulation. The transcription factor FOXO, a member of the insulin signaling pathway family shown to mediate an extensive variety of cellular responses in humans, has also been shown to promote general muscle proteostasis and, more specifically, improve cardiac performance in Drosophila Melanogaster. In this study, using high speed video microscopy and motion analysis, we saw a significant decrease in heart rate and diastolic diameter and an increased incidence in arhythmicity in control fly hearts consistent with age-related changes in cardiac output. Furthermore, with the use of atomic force microscopy, we determined that control fly hearts become stiffer with age. The overexpression of FOXO in a heart-specific manner ameliorated these effects by showing no significant change in the incidence of arhythmicity, heart rate, and diastolic diameter with age as well as by affording protection against age-related changes in myocardial stiffness. These data support the hypothesis that increased FOXO activity helps maintain muscle proteostasis in aging hearts."
Fly heart imaging! Once again, here is some of the startling science going on locally, presented in our very unpretentious atmosphere. Donations appreciated.
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