Internal Medicine

Misplaced protein causes heart failure


Colchicine, a drug that's used to treat gout, has the beneficial side effect of lowering the risk of heart attack in patients taking it. Conversely, taxol, a drug for treating cancer, has the opposite effect; raising the risk of heart failure.

What both these drugs have in common is that they act on microtubules – a network of fibers inside heart cells that provide internal structural support. Previous studies, including evidence from human patients and experimental models of heart failure, have suggested a link between heart failure and increased density of microtubules, but the mechanisms underlying the link were not clear.

"While it was known that changes in microtubules are linked to the progression of heart failure, no one understood how this was happening," says Dr. Long-Sheng Song,associate professor of internal medicine at the University of Iowa Carver College of Medicine. "Our study provides the first compelling evidence showing how increased microtubule density drives heart failure."

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