Bookmark and Share RSS IconRSS

Feature Stories by Date

Feature Story

Health Center Today, January 4, 2011

UConn Cardiologists Uncover New Heart Attack Warning Sign

By Chris DeFrancesco

Photo of Bruce T. Liang, M.D., F.A.C.C.

Dr. Bruce Liang is lead author in a study of a protein fragment that is a likely biomarker for heart attack. The research is published in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology.

Health Center cardiologists have identified a protein fragment that when detected in the blood can be a predictor of heart attack.

Their research, led by Dr. Bruce Liang, director of the Pat and Jim Calhoun Cardiology Center, is published in the January 11 issue of the Journal of the American College of Cardiology. It found heart attack patients had elevated levels of the protein fragment known as Caspase-3 p17 in their blood.

"We’ve discovered a new biomarker for heart attack, and showed that apoptosis, or a particular kind of cell death, is a cause of heart muscle damage." Liang says. "The ability to see a heart attack coming with a simple blood test and to develop new therapies to block apoptosis would enable us to get a head start on treatment and preserve crucial heart muscle and cardiac function."

The article is available online at

"This test can work in patients but has not met regulatory requirements for clinical application in patients suspected of having a heart attack," Liang says. "If it is successfully applied one day, it would mean another way to diagnose heart attack and the possible development of new treatments."

Co-investigators include Drs. Mariela Agosto, Michael Azrin and Kanwar Singh from the UConn Health Center and Dr. Allan Jaffe from the Mayo Clinic and Mayo Medical School, Rochester, Minnesota.