Two-Drug Combination May Reverse Heart Attack Damage

Cardiomyocyte regeneration plus angiogenesis staves off damage after myocardial infarction in rat study

THURSDAY, Oct. 12 (HealthDay News) -- A drug combination may pack a one-two punch against myocardial infarction damage by regenerating cardiomyocytes and providing a fresh blood supply, according to an animal study published online Oct. 10 in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences Early Edition.

Felix B. Engel, Ph.D., of Harvard Medical School in Boston, and colleagues report that rats with simulated myocardial infarctions that received injections of p38 MAP kinase inhibitor and the angiogenesis stimulator fibroblast growth factor-1 (FGF1) showed greater improvements in cardiomyocyte proliferation and heart function than rats given either of the drugs alone or placebo at three months.

The rats that received the combination showed markedly improved heart function, had reduced thinning of the cardiac wall, the least amount of scarring at three months and their hearts pumped almost as well as rats that had not had a myocardial infarction.

Rats that received p38 MAP kinase inhibitor alone showed increased proliferation of cardiomyocytes, but did not show functional improvements, and rats that received only FGF1 maintained functional improvements, but did not show as much cell proliferation as those receiving p38.

"FGF1/p38 inhibitor treatment may prove useful for protecting patients from cardiac injury and therefore warrants further preclinical investigation," the authors conclude.

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