In the recent study which was published in the journal Circulation Research and was carried out by the researchers in UC Davis, the pancreatic hormone named Amylin has been associated to the varied cardiac problems in the people who are obese and are also diabetic. In an unusual observation the researchers found that certain strings of 10 to 20 proteins called oligomers, small fibers and plaques made of Amylin were present in the failing hearts of the patients who were obese and diabetic. In the patients who are overweight and not obese, it has been suggested that Amylin may accumulate before diabetes is diagnosed. Amylin is the hormone that produces the feeling of being full after eating and its presence in the heart leads to muscle fatigue and destruction.
Florin Despa, senior author of the study and an assistant professor of pharmacology at UC Davis, thinks that the link between cardiac amylin accumulation and heart disease has been overlooked. She said, “Amylin appears to be a stealth killer. There is only one amylin protein for every 100 insulin proteins in the blood, so it has been under the radar until recently.” According to the scientists if the circulation of Amylin hormone in the blood sugar is controlled then it might lessen or prevent disabilities and deaths caused by heart disease. Heart failure has been the number-one killer in the diabetic and obese people. In the blood of the healthy people, Amylin circulates along with insulin-the hormone that regulates gastric fluxes, sensation of satiety and carbohydrate and fat metabolism.
Amylin oligomers attach themselves to the membranes of myocytes which are the muscle cells that control heart beats and this was found with the help of genetically engineered rats who secrete human amylin in the same quantity as it is found in obese people. The membranes then become porous to calcium and this changed mycocyte contractibility which eventually led to the death of the heart muscle cells. In comparison to the obese and type 2 diabetic patients, lean people were found to contain no or little Amylin accumulation in their hearts while a smaller yet abnormal buildup was observed in non failing hearts from patients who were over weight but not obese. To halt the buildups of Amylin, scientists are looking up to find new ways. In this context Despa said, “Drugs that block amylin from forming into toxic oligomers could significantly reduce the chances of heart failure.”