Heart attack and stroke are the primary cause of death worldwide. When a blood clot forms, it blocks the blood vessel and blood circulation. The non-irrigated tissues no longer receive oxygen and rapidly undergo necrosis, from which they cannot recover. "But what causes the necrosis under these conditions?," asked Howard Riezman, Professor in the Department of Biochemistry of the Faculty of Science at UNIGE and Director of the NCCR Chemical Biology. Not all animals are so sensitive to the absence of oxygen, worms can live three days without oxygen, some turtles can live several months, and certain bacteria indefinitely. "That is why we sought to find the link between the lack of oxygen and tissue necrosis in mammals," continued the scientist.
The researchers saw that in worms a particular species of ceramide, deoxydihydroceramide, accumulated to dangerous levels under anoxia, that is when tissues were completely deprived of oxygen. "Ceramides are absolutely essential lipids for the body," points out Thomas Hannich, a researcher at the Department of Biochemistry of the Faculty of Science at the UNIGE. "Without ceramides, several essential functions would be defective, for example, our skin would completely dry out."
Infarct - Synthesis - Deoxydihydroceramide - Increases - Toxic
Nevertheless, upon an infarct, the synthesis of deoxydihydroceramide increases and becomes toxic for cells. "Using mass spectrometry, we observed that this ceramide blocks certain protein complexes and provokes defects in the cytoskeleton of cells and the proper function of...
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