5 Feb 2016

Reducing cardiac fibrosis

By Dr Jodie Abramovitch

Cardiac fibrosis (scarring) causes the heart to become stiff which affects the ability of the heart to function normally. Cardiac fibrosis can lead to heart failure and is associated with a range of health problems including hypertension, diabetes and obesity.

Dr Anthony Dear
A new class of therapeutics used to treat diabetes, known as glucagon-like peptide-1 receptor (GLP-1R) agonists, help regulate glucose levels in the body. There is evidence that some GLP-1R agonists are able to improve vascular disease in mouse models.

Monash researchers from the Eastern Health Clinical School and the Department of Pharmacology, overseen by Dr Anthony Dear (also associated with the Australian Centre for Blood Diseases) have investigated the effect of a GLP-1R agonist on cardiac fibrosis in a number of different pathological settings.  The recently published work showed that mice with hypertension, obesity, or age induced cardiac fibrosis had reduced evidence of cardiac fibrosis following treatment with a GLP-1R agonist, regardless of diabetic status. Furthermore, reduced levels of inflammatory markers were found within the hearts of treated animals. This reduction in inflammation may be the mechanism behind the observed reduction in cardiac fibrosis.

These results show that GLP-1R agonists may have success in treating cardiac fibrosis, regardless of pathological cause (i.e. hypertension, obesity or age), in humans.

Reference: Gaspari T, Brdar M, Lee HW, Spizzo I, Hu Y, Widdop RE, Simpson RW, Dear AE. Molecular and cellular mechanisms of glucagon-like peptide-1 receptor agonist-mediated attenuation of cardiac fibrosis. Diab Vasc Dis Res. 2016 Jan: 13;56-68.
doi: 10.1177/1479164115605000.
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