November 08, 2015 Categories: Scientific Conferences & Meetings

Tip Highlights:

  • Fish in space help highlight changes in heart tissue from prolonged spaceflight
  • Replacement tissue grown for the tiny blood vessels
  • Cell-based treatment may aid in healing acute kidney injury
  • Stacking tactic proves promising in building blood vessel replacement parts
  • Spice improves heart function, survival after CPR in rats

THESE TIPS ARE EMBARGOED UNTIL 8 a.m. ET, Sunday, Nov. 8, 2015.

Abstract 11815 (Hall A2, Poster M 1105)

Fish in space help highlight changes in heart tissue from prolonged spaceflight

Prolonged spaceflight might cause the heart to deteriorate, according to a study presented at the American Heart Association’s Scientific Sessions 2015.

Researchers from Keio University in Tokyo studied 15 medaka, or Japanese rice fish, that spent two weeks or two months swimming in the absence of gravity in an aquarium on the International Space Station. The fish in space were normal in size but tended to swim in loops rather than in straight paths.

Researchers discovered that fish kept only two weeks in the space aquarium appeared to have normal heart structure and tissue, while fish that were kept two months in the aquarium had various structural changes, including thinner heart muscle fibers.

At a molecular level, researchers found that the heart tissue of fish that spent a longer time in space had reduced activity in genes that affect the heart’s contraction, and elevated activity in genes related to autophagy, the self-consumption by cells of their unneeded components. The thinning of the fishes’ heart muscle fibers associated with prolonged weightlessness in space appeared to be due to autophagy.

Researchers said their findings suggest changes that occur in both contraction-related and autophagy-related genes during lengthy spaceflight may lead to cardiac atrophy.

Hirokazu Enomoto, Ph.D. student at Keio University, Tokyo;.

Note: Actual presentation is 5:30 p.m. ET, Monday, Nov. 9, 2015


Abstract 10441 (Hall A2, Poster S 1025)

Replacement tissue grown for tiny blood vessels

Japanese researchers at the National Cerebral and Cardiovascular Center grew very narrow, tube-shaped tissue that could function as a blood vessel, according to a new study in rats presented at the American Heart Association’s Scientific Sessions 2015.

These “microbiotubes,” measuring just 0.6 millimeters in diameter, could one day be used in surgery to help reattach fingers and reconstruct lymphatic vessels in plastic surgery, researchers said.

The biotubes were developed on molds made of seven stainless steel wires covered with silicone tubes and plastic caps. Researchers surgically implanted the molds under the skin on the backs of five laboratory rats. Two months later, they removed the molds, along with newly developed biotubes, which were composed of very thin, collagen-rich tissue.

The collagen-rich microbiotubes were later implanted into six femoral arteries in four rats. There, the microbiotubes and the natural femoral artery tissue fused.

Using imaging tests, researchers found that the microbiotubes were immediately secure after they were implanted. More than 80 percent of them remained so a month later, and the tubes continued to stay open and functioning for as long as six months.

Daizo Ishii, M.D., Department of Neurosurgery, Hiroshima University Graduate School of Biomedical and Health Sciences, Japan;

Note: Actual presentation is 5:30 p.m. ET, Sunday, Nov. 8, 2015


Abstract 15477 (Hall A2, Poster S 1060)

Cell-based treatment may aid in healing acute kidney injury

Dispatching healing cells equipped with proteins that serve as a guidance system may improve recovery when sudden damage occurs to the kidney, according to new research presented at the American Heart Association’s Scientific Sessions 2015.

Acute kidney injury generally occurs when blood flow to the kidney tissue is decreased, a condition common in hospitalized and critically ill patients.

Researchers from Alabama attached endothelial cells — cells found on the interior surface of blood vessels — with receptor proteins called interleukin-8 (IL-8) to target these cells to the site of injury in order to accelerate tissue repair in injured kidneys.

They divided rats into four groups of eight to 10 each. One group (sham) had no kidney injury. The other three groups included rats with acute kidney injury. Of the three groups that had acute kidney injury, one group received endothelial cells carrying the IL-8 receptors, the second group received endothelial cells without the receptors, and the third received just a saline solution (control group).

The day after the procedure, they found:

  • Treatment with endothelial cells carrying IL-8 receptors was linked to lower levels of inflammation-related molecules in the kidney and bloodstream.

  • A surge in serum creatinine — a waste product normally filtered by healthy kidneys — was also milder in rats that received the endothelial cells carrying the IL-8 receptors than it was in rats that did not.

After six weeks, treatment with endothelial cells carrying IL-8 receptors appeared more effective against a buildup of collagen in the kidney’s supportive tissue, compared to the sham and control groups.

Fadi G. Hage, M.D.; section chief of nuclear cardiology at the University of Alabama at Birmingham;

Note: Actual presentation is 5:30 p.m. ET, Sunday, Nov. 8, 2015


Abstract 15960 (Hall A2, Poster T 1014)

Stacking tactic proves promising in building blood vessel replacement parts

By stacking rings of cells like a roll of Life Savers® candy, researchers developed a tube of tissue that might one day serve as blood vessel replacement parts.

Researchers used 3D printers to build a tubular scaffold from a long chain of molecules. They then developed the core layer for their biotubes: a layer of human aortic smooth muscle cells.

“Smooth muscle cells make up the majority of blood vessel architecture and will help form a tightly contracted ring,” said study author Cameron B. Pinnock, M.S., a Ph.D. student at Wayne State University in Detroit. “These cells also may enable the tubes to constrict or dilate, just as actual blood vessels do.”

With a plastic tube to keep the pieces in place, researchers stacked six smooth-muscle-cell rings, one atop the other, and used fibrin glue to form a tube extending about 10 millimeters in length. The resulting tube was structurally stable and able to hold itself open. Over time, they expect the cells from each ring to migrate and integrate the segments.

Engineered blood vessel replacement parts could eventually lead to decreased dependence on harvesting grafts from other parts of the body. Replacement vessels have the potential to integrate into the pre-existing tissue and promote healing and help reestablish blood supply in the region.

Cameron B. Pinnock, M.S.; Ph.D. student at Wayne State University, Detroit; 

Note: Actual presentation for 15960 is 5:30 p.m. ET, Tuesday, Nov. 10, 2015


Abstracts 10770 and 10773 (Valencia Ballroom - W415, Posters 239 and 240)

Spice improves heart function, survival after CPR

The active ingredient in the spice turmeric, called curcumin, may help shield the heart from damage after cardiac arrest and resuscitation, according to two animal studies presented at the American Heart Association’s Scientific Sessions 2015.

In the first study (Abstracts 10770), researchers evenly divided 24 rats into three groups. In the first group, rats were pre-treated with curcumin and received epinephrine during resuscitation; the second group received only epinephrine; and the third group received neither treatment.

Researchers found:

  • All eight rats in the curcumin/epinephrine group and the epinephrine-only group were revived, compared to only six rats in the no-treatment group.

  • Seven rats in the combined treatment group lived more than 24 hours compared to only one rat in the epinephrine-only group, and two in the no-treatment group.

“Epinephrine can be both helpful and harmful,” said researcher Wanchun Tang, M.D. “During CPR, epinephrine constricts blood flow to the limbs, allowing more blood to reach the heart and brain—but epinephrine also increases the heart’s need for oxygen, which can lead to damage because that need isn’t met during CPR.”

Heart damage was most severe in the epinephrine-only group, and least severe in those given curcumin plus epinephrine, indicating the curcumin was protective against damage associated with the epinephrine, researchers said.

In a similar study (Abstracts 10773), 16 rats were divided into two groups: half were fed 450-550 grams of curcumin, based on their weight at the start of the experiment, and the other half did not receive curcumin.

Eight minutes after inducing an irregular heart rhythm in the rats, researchers provided CPR and defibrillation to restore normal heart rhythms.

Researcher found:

  • Seven rats in the curcumin group were revived, compared to six in the control group.

  • Ultrasound tests found all 16 rats had significant impairment to the muscular layer of the heart responsible for pumping blood (myocardium).

  • Rats that received curcumin had better heart function.

Wanchun Tang, M.D., Professor and President at Weil Institute of Critical Care Medicine, California; and Zhengfei (Victor) Yang, M.D., Ph.D.; Sun Yat-sen Memorial Hospital, Sun Yat-sen University, Guangzhou, China;

Note: Actual presentation for 10770/239 is 8:10 a.m. ET, Sunday, Nov. 8, 2015

Note: Actual presentation for 10773/240 is 8:20 a.m. ET, Sunday, Nov. 8, 2015

Additional Resources:


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