Switching Energy Sources In A Heartbeat

A research group in South Korea has identified ketone bodies as a crucial energy source for the heart.

AsianScientist (Jan. 25, 2019) – In a study published in the Journal of American College of Cardiology, a team of researchers in Japan has discovered how the heart uses ketone bodies to maintain its function.

Ketone bodies are metabolites that can be used as energy sources by the body. They are typically used as an alternative energy source during starvation, fasting, or periods of high-intensity exercise. However, the way the heart uses ketone bodies was poorly understood.

In the present study, researchers from Kumamoto University, Japan, collected blood samples from cardiac catheterization patients at the entrance and exit of the vascular network that supplies blood to the heart, what is known as coronary circulation. The samples were then analyzed to determine the amount of ketone bodies in the heart.

Researchers found that about 35 percent of the ketone bodies were consumed during coronary circulation under normal conditions. They also discovered that the utilization of ketone bodies decreases substantially when coronary circulation is reduced under conditions of myocardial ischemia.

In myocardial ischemia, metabolism under low-oxygen conditions is accelerated, lactic acid production is increased and mitochondrial function requiring oxygen is impaired. Mitochondria are organelles in living cells that are critical for energy generation, so when their function is impaired, ketone bodies cannot be used.

“Based on what we have seen here, we expect to see advancements in research on efficient energy use in the heart and perhaps the development of new treatment methods for heart disease,” said Dr. Yuichiro Arima of Kumamoto University who led the study.

The article can be found at: Arima et al. (2019) Myocardial Ischemia Suppresses Ketone Body Utilization.


Source: Kumamoto University; Photo: Shutterstock.
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