Big Hearts

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Science  10 Oct 2003:
Vol. 302, Issue 5643, pp. 199-201
DOI: 10.1126/science.302.5643.199d

The increase in heart size seen in cardiac hypertrophy is a mechanism by which the heart adapts to increased workload. In the context of pathological stimuli, such as high blood pressure, this response is deleterious and eventually leads to heart failure. By contrast, the exercise-induced cardiac hypertrophy that is often seen in elite athletes can enhance heart function. Whether these two forms of hypertrophy arise through common or distinct signaling pathways is a question of great current interest. In a study of transgenic mice, McMullen et al. identify a signaling protein, PI3K (phosphoinositide 3-kinase p110 alpha), that is required for physiological but not pathological hypertrophy, consistent with the idea that distinct signaling cascades are involved. This finding also raises the possibility that pharmacological manipulation of PI3K signaling could be used to promote physiological hypertrophy and enhance heart function in patients with heart failure. — PAK

Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. U.S.A. 10.1073/pnas.1934654100 (2003).

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