As a healthy heart ages, it becomes more susceptible to cardiovascular diseases. Though researchers have discovered that relaxin, an insulin-like hormone, suppresses atrial fibrillation (AF), inflammation, and fibrosis in aged rats, the underlying mechanisms of these benefits are still unknown. In an open-access Scientific Reports article published online on December 6, 2019,, University of Pittsburgh (Pitt) graduate student Brian Martin discusses how relaxin interacts with the body's signaling processes to produce a fundamental mechanism that may have great therapeutic potential. The study, titled "Relaxin Reverses Maladaptive Remodeling of the Aged Heart Through Wnt-Signaling" was led by Guy Salama, PhD, Professor of Medicine at Pitt, and Martin, a graduate student researcher from Swanson School of Engineering's Department of Bioengineering at Pitt. "Relaxin is a reproductive hormone discovered in the early 20th century that has been shown to suppress cardiovascular disease symptoms," said Martin. "In this paper, we show that relaxin treatment reverses electrical remodeling in animal models by activating canonical Wnt signaling, a discovery that reveals a fundamental underlying mechanism behind relaxin's benefits." A better understanding of how relaxin interacts with the body may improve its efficacy as a therapy to treat cardiovascular disease in humans. As the U.S. population ages, the rates of these age-associated diseases are expected to rise, requiring better treatment for this leading cause of death. According to a report (https://healthmetrics.heart.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/10/Cardiovascular-Disease-A-Costly-Burden.pdf ) from the American Heart Association, the total direct medical costs of cardiovascular disease are projected to increase to $749 billion in 2035.
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