12 January - 20 June 2016

Sugar overload can damage the heart

19 June 13

According to a study published in the Journal of the American Heart Association eating too much sugar may lead to an increased risk of heart failure.  The scientists from the University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston  indicate that consuming too much starch and/or sugar can cause a build up of glucose 6-phosphate (G6P), a metabolite of glucose, which causes direct stress by changing the muscle proteins and inducing poor pump function leading to heart failure.  To assess rates of mycocardial glucose metabolism in response to increase workload, Taegtmeyer et al used  different energy providing substrates  including glucose, glucose analogues and non carbohydrate substrates and subjected the working rat heart ex vivo to a high workload in the presence of these.  They found that doubling the workload of rat hearts perfused ex vivo with glucose as the only substrate increased the rates of myocardial glucose uptake beyond the hearts’ oxidative capacity.  This resulted in G6P accumulation associated with the mammalian target of rapamycin (mTOR) activation, endoplasmic reticulum stress and impaired contractile function.    Taegtmeyer el al report that all of these were prevented when the animals were pretreated with the drug rapamycin (mTor inhibition) or metformin (AMPK activation).   Taegtmeyer et al. also tested these finding in live rats.  They found enhanced glucose tracer analogue uptake and contractile dysfunction preceding dilatation of the left ventricle.  Tests were also conducted on tissues taken from patients at the Texas Heart Institute who had a piece of the heart muscle removed in order to implant a left ventricle assist device. These tests also led to the discovery of the damage caused by G6P.  They found that mechanical unloading decreased G6P levels and ER stress markers.  In conclusion Taegtmeyer et al state that when people have high blood pressure, or other diseases, the heart is already stressed, so when it takes in excess glucose its condition only worsens and it can become severely injured.

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