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Brain biomarkers

Brain biomarker can potentially diagnose heart inflammation

Saturday, March 08, 2014 by: J. Anderson
Tags: brain biomarkers, heart inflammation, cardiovascular conditions

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(NaturalNews) Brain damage or neurodegeneration can commonly be diagnosed by examining the levels of specific protein biomarkers. It turns out that these same biomarkers can be used to diagnose and assess the severity of myocarditis, or heart inflammation, according to a study published in the Journal of Cardiovascular Translational Research.

There currently isn't a noninvasive way to confirm a diagnosis of heart inflammation. The current invasive method is biopsy, which can miss the inflammation, leading to a negative diagnosis. Myocarditis can lead to death via heart failure from inflamed, damaged muscles. This inflammation is often an autoimmune response to viral infections (such as Lyme disease). There are some natural ways to treat/decrease myocarditis. For instance, several studies have demonstrated that turmeric can be very beneficial for individuals with autoimmune myocarditis! Likewise, other natural treatments of myocarditis that are currently being studied are red Hawthorn berries and some species of the herb astragalus.

When it comes to brain inflammation, doctors commonly look for increased levels of translocator protein 18 kDa (TSPO) in the brain. The level of TSPO can give them an idea of the extent of brain damage or injury. By measuring the levels of TSPO in biopsied samples from individuals and mice with myocarditis, the team found that this biomarker can help diagnose myocarditis. It could also help indicate which inflammation stage the samples are in and if there is risk for heart failure (higher the level, higher the risk).

At first, the researchers thought that TSPO was simply a way to measure the levels of inflammation and therefore help in diagnosis, but as it turns out they now think that TSPO may actually be causing the progression of the disease. Dr. Fairweather, a co-author of the study, explained, "TSPO is directly related to whether patients are going to develop severe myocarditis and heart failure."

The group's next step is to perform a small-scale study on individuals suffering from myocarditis. This could lead to the team determining if TSPO can be a diagnostic tool or if it affects atherosclerosis and other heart-related diseases.

Author Dr. Guilarte indicated that this research was impressive because it allows us to take what we know about TSPO in the brain and possibly implement that in the heart. Currently, there are ways to control the levels of TSPO in the brain that allow for doctors to slow the progression of neurodegeneration. Dr. Guilarte explained, "Our latest study is a major milestone because it demonstrates that we can take what we learned about TSPO in the brain and draw lessons for the heart. Indeed, TSPO will likely have implications for other organ systems."

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