The correct dose of radiation can rejuvenate the heart and relieve arrhythmias

Scientists at the University of Washington School of Medicine made an intriguing discovery that

radiation therapy may become a less invasive treatment for cardiac arrhythmias. This method seems to activate the heart cells, helping them return to a youthful state and repair tissue.

Arrhythmia is a condition in which the heartbeats irregularly, which can lead to potentially dangerous health problems. This is a result of problems with how electrical signals are transmitted through the tissues, and one of the main treatments is called catheter ablation. This invasive procedure involves placing special tubes through arteries in the heart and a small burn, creating scar tissue that interrupts signals.

What did they find

Several years ago, the WashingtonThe university has discovered a much less invasive alternative - radiation therapy, which is often used to treat cancer patients. When applied to the heart, this therapy has been found to improve arrhythmia symptoms in the same way as catheter ablation, and perhaps even better.

It was assumed that under the influence of radiationscars similar to the catheter ablation process are formed, but observations have shown that other factors are at work. Radiation therapy seemed to improve symptoms in a matter of days, rather than the months it might take with catheter ablation. So in a new study, scientists have figured out what else might be going on.

What are the prospects

Subsequent tests in mouse hearts showed that the activity of a signaling pathway called Notch was temporarily increased. This increases sodium ion channels in the heart muscle, decreasing arrhythmias.

Surprisingly, the Notch signaling pathway is usuallyinactive in adults. It plays a key role in the development of the electrical system of the heart, and then dies down in adulthood. Activating this pathway with radiation seems to bring the tissue back to a healthier, "youthful" state for a while. It has been observed that the beneficial effects persist in patients for at least two years.

The team plans to continue investigating this method as a potential treatment for arrhythmias and to find out the optimal radiation dose.

Source: nature, wustl.edu

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