Surprising Ways to Protect Your Heart: Research from Experimental Biology 2019


EB 2019 Crowd Shot

Credit: American Physiological Society

Scientists who study physiology and other biomedical research fields—including anatomy, biochemistry, pathology and pharmacology—gather every year at the Experimental Biology (EB) meeting to network, collaborate and communicate new research findings. This year’s EB meeting in Orlando, Fla., featured studies ranging from the gut microbiome to heart disease to adolescent health. Read on to learn more about new potential treatments for heart failure and how sunscreen may keep your blood vessels healthy.

Stephen Ratchford poster

Stephen Ratchford, PhD, presents his poster, “Impact of acute antioxidant administration on inflammation and vascular function in heart failure with preserved ejection fraction” at Experimental Biology 2019. Credit: Erica Roth

People with heart failure with preserved ejection fraction (HFpEF) may be able to improve their heart health with vitamins they can buy at their neighborhood supermarket or drugstore. Researchers from the University of Utah and the Salt Lake City VA Geriatric Research, Education and Clinical Center studied people with HFpEF—the most common form of heart failure in older adults. They found that when the volunteers took a combination of vitamins A and C and the antioxidant alpha lipoic acid they had less inflammation and better blood vessel function.

Jan Azarov poster

Jan Azarov, PhD, presents his poster, “Antiarrhythmic effects of chronic melatonin treatment are not associated with its antioxidative action in rat myocardial ischemia/reperfusion model” at Experimental Biology 2019. Credit: Erica Roth

Melatonin, a hormone that helps people feel sleepy, has been found to prevent and reduce abnormal heartbeats (arrhythmia). Scientists have assumed this benefit came from melatonin’s antioxidant properties that can slow, reverse or even prevent cell damage in the body. However, researchers from the Institute of Physiology of the Komi Science Center, in the Komi Republic in Russia, found that it’s not the antioxidant action that’s delivering these benefits, but interaction with melatonin receptors. Melatonin receptors are cells that process signaling from melatonin.

Wolf poster 2

S. Tony Wolf, MA, presents his poster, “The modulating effects of sunscreen and simulated sweat on ultraviolet radiation-induced microvascular dysfunction in the human cutaneous vasculature” at Experimental Biology 2019. Credit: Erica Roth

The medical community, media and plenty of concerned family members remind beachgoers and other outdoorsy types every year to slather on the sunscreen to prevent skin cancer when the sun shines bright. Now, new research from Pennsylvania State University suggests that sunscreen can also maintain blood vessel health, which in turn may reduce the risk of heart disease. The study found that wearing sunscreen caused the skin to produce more nitric oxide, a substance that helps the blood vessels widen (dilate). Even more surprising, sweat protected the skin’s blood vessels from sun damage, too.

Interested in learning about more research presented at the meeting? Read more:

Sleeping, Breathing and Addiction: Research from Experimental Biology 2019

Connections between Food, Drink and the Brain: Research from Experimental Biology 2019

Erica Roth

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