Radiotherapy Repairs Heart Arrhythmia

Oct, 2021 - By SMI

Radiotherapy Repairs Heart Arrhythmia

A new research found that irregular heart rhythms can be corrected with radiation therapy by reprogramming heart muscles to a younger state.

A team of scientists from Washington University School of Medicine made an interesting discovery of treating heart arrhythmia with radiation therapy making it a less invasive treatment. The discovery found that this technique reprograms heart cells and pushes them to a younger state solving electrical problem of fatal arrhythmia without needing conventional, invasive method of treatment.

Heart arrhythmia causes irregular beating of heart that can create lethal complications in patients. It occurs due to abnormal direction of electric signals through the tissues. It is treated with an invasive procedure called catheter ablation, in which thin tubes are threaded into heart through arteries. However, the new research found out that radiotherapy commonly used in cancer treatment reverts the heart muscle cells back to a juvenile stage and corrects the unnatural transport of electric signals. Moreover, same process of reprogramming heart muscle cells can be obtained with smaller radiation quantities. When tested in mice, the team found that radiotherapy triggers heart muscle cells to show different genes. They analysed activity in signalling path known as Notch that boosts sodium ion channels in the heart muscle of mice, which reduced arrhythmia. The Notch path plays an important role in developing the electrical system of the heart in young age. It becomes inactive in adulthood.

In the study, the Notch was reactivated in mice with radiation therapy reverting those tissues back to healthier or younger stage for a short period. However in humans, the effect of radiation therapy on heart was observed to be persistent for minimum two years. The team of scientists decided to further study potential of the technique for treating arrhythmia as well as efficiency of small doses of radiations.

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