-- Robert Preidt
THURSDAY, Oct. 27 (HealthDay News) -- Huge amounts of fatty
acids that circulate in the bloodstreams of pythons when they feed
promote healthy heart growth, a finding that may lead to new ways
to treat heart disease in people, researchers report.
One day after eating, triglyceride levels in Burmese pythons
increased by more than 50-fold. Triglycerides are the main
component of natural fats and oils.
There was also an increase in the activity of an enzyme known to
protect the heart from damage, the University of Colorado Boulder
The team identified the chemical composition of blood plasma in
pythons that had just fed. They injected fasting pythons with
either "fed python" blood plasma or a fatty acid mixture they
created to mimic such plasma.
Both types of injections led to increased heart growth and
indicators of cardiac health in the fasting snakes.
The same results were seen in mice that were injected with
either "fed python" blood plasma or the fatty acid mixture.
"We found that a combination of fatty acids can induce beneficial heart growth in living organisms," first author and postdoctoral researcher Cecilia Riquelme said in a university news release. "Now we are trying to understand the molecular mechanisms behind the process in hopes that the results might lead to new therapies to improve heart disease conditions in humans."
The study appears in the Oct. 28 issue of the journal
The three key fatty acids in fed-python plasma are myristic
acid, palmitic acid and palmitoleic acid. The enzyme that showed
increased activity in the python hearts during feeding is called
superoxide dismutase. It's a well-known enzyme that protects the
heart in humans and many other living organisms, the researchers
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention explains
what you can do to
prevent heart disease.
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