Understanding Congenital Heart Disease in Newborns

An international research team from Japan’s Hokkaido University and Canada’s University of Alberta investigated a kind of metabolic process that provides heart muscle with energy that fails to grow in newborns who have hypertrophy.

University of Alberta’s Dr. Gary Lopaschuk and Hokkaido University’s Dr. Arata Fukushima led this study where they tested 84 newborns with congenital heart disease who had undergone surgery.

The research team compared the biopsy samples taken from patients with normal and thickened right ventricular walls.

LCAD and βHAD were two enzymes analyzed by the team that were responsible for the breakdown of fatty acid.

“Our findings show that acetylation of metabolic enzymes plays an important role in controlling the dramatic changes in energy metabolism that occur in newborn hearts immediately after birth,” says Dr. Arata Fukushima.

“The findings also show how hypertrophy can perturb this process by delaying the maturation of fatty acid metabolism, which compromises the ability of the newborn heart to generate energy. Developing drugs that enhance acetylation of the metabolic enzymes could help treat patients with hypertrophy,’’ he added.

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