News Release

November 6, 2007

Contact: Christopher DeFrancesco, 860-679-3914

UConn Researchers ID Protein Linked to Heart Disease

American Heart Association Interested in Health Center Scientists’ Work

FARMINGTON, CONN. – Researchers at the University of Connecticut Health Center have identified a gene that they believe plays a significant role in the development of heart disease.

Lead investigator Lixia Yue, Ph.D., assistant professor of cell biology, says the TRPM7 gene provides a conduit that enables calcium to get into fibroblasts, which are a type of heart cell. Abnormal calcium levels in fibroblasts can lead to cardiac fibrosis.

“Fibrosis often leads to a variety of cardiac diseases, including irregular heartbeat, enlarged heart, heart failure and sudden cardiac death,” Yue says. “If you can control the calcium level, you can stop the fibrosis. Our focus is on the TRPM7 channel protein; the question now is, how do we moderate this channel to prevent fibrosis?”

Yue, a researcher in the Health Center’s Pat and Jim Calhoun Cardiology Center, presented her findings at an American Heart Association conference in Orlando, Fla., Tuesday, Nov. 6. The study will be published in the American Heart Association journal Circulation.

“This work has yielded novel information that gives us a better understanding of how certain cardiac diseases can originate,” says Calhoun Cardiology Center Director Bruce T. Liang, M.D. Jianyang Du, Ph.D., Heun Soh, Ph.D., and David Silverman, M.D., collaborated with Yue and Liang on the research.

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