Heart failure is characterised by contractile dysfunction caused by a decreased sarcoplasmic reticulum Ca2+-ATPase (SERCA2a) activity. In September 18 Circulation, Federica del Monte and colleagues from Massachusetts General Hospital show that gene transfer of SERCA2a can improve survival and the energy potential in failing hearts.

del Monte et al. tested the effects of adenoviral cardiac gene transfer of SERCA2a on survival, left ventricular (LV) volumes and metabolism in a rat model of heart failure created by ascending aortic constriction. After four weeks, the survival was 63% compared to 9% for rats that didn't receive the gene. In addition, the restoration of SERCA2a expression in vivo improved the contractile function and the cardiac energetics (Circulation 2001,104:1424-1429).

"This study validates the feasibility of cardiac gene transfer in failing hearts as a therapeutic modality," said the authors.

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