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Free radicals have been linked to cancer-related cardiac damage.

The existence of a cancer tumor alone can cause cardiac damage. According to a recent study in animal models, and the culprits are molecules called free radicals interacting with certain cells in the heart.

Tumors in mice and fruit flies caused varied degrees of cardiac dysfunction, including a reduction in the heart's ability to pump blood.

Adding specific antioxidants to the diet consumed by tumor-bearing fruit flies repaired the damage to their hearts, implying that free radical damage is the likely link between cancer and cardiac dysfunction.

"Cancer develops into a systemic illness. It's not just a tumor doing one thing; it's a combination of factors "Shubha Gururaja Rao, an assistant professor of pharmacology at Ohio Northern University and an adjunct faculty member in physiology and cell biology at The Ohio State University, is a co-lead author on the study.

The majority of what is known about cancer's link to cardiac disease is based on the toxic effects of chemotherapy and the muscular atrophy that cancer patients typically endure.

This is the first study to look at cancer's direct impact on heart dysfunction using a genetic model. The researchers discovered that different cancer-associated genes have distinct effects on the heart, indicating that genetic information could one day help cancer patients make heart-protective therapy options.

"If you know what genes are driving the cancer or are faulty in certain tumors, treatment may be personalized," said Harpreet Singh, co-lead author of the study and associate professor of physiology and cell biology at Ohio State.

"Above all, we want to make clinicians aware that other organs are receiving the message and are being harmed when cancer is first detected, long before muscle wasting sets in or chemotherapy begins."

Antioxidants is the publication where the research was published.

Cachexia, a muscle wasting syndrome that can lead to heart failure, affects 50 to 80 percent of cancer patients, and radiation and chemotherapy therapies are linked to toxicity-related damage to the heart muscle.

However, new study suggests that heart issues can develop prior to cancer treatment or muscle loss. A study just published in the Journal of the American Heart Association indicated the discovery of anomalies in heart tissue and cardiac function in human cancer patients before cancer therapy began, according to the Ohio State team.

The researchers at Ohio State implanted breast cancer cells into the mammary glands of mice and assessed their heart performance four weeks later. They discovered that left ventricular ejection fraction and fractional shortening, two indicators of heart pumping output, had dropped by roughly 20% and 22%, respectively.

The researchers overexpressed cancer-causing genes in fruit flies to cause tumors to form in their eyes. In flies with tumors, the scientists noticed a reduced ejection percentage and fractional shortening, comparable to what they saw in mice with tumors, as well as an increase in heart rate.

When fruit flies with tumors were compared to controls, the researchers discovered a total-body rise in the rate of generation as well as a larger total quantity of free radicals (also known as reactive oxygen species). In mice with tumors, the rate of reactive oxygen species production was likewise much higher than in controls.

Four antioxidants were added to the fruit flies' meals for seven days to see if they could cure tumor-related heart damage: glutathione (GSH), vitamin E, CoQ10, or vitamin C.

All but vitamin C restored the flies' heart function to normal levels, according to the findings.

"We don't know why one antioxidant works better than another," Rao said, adding that because the flies ate the antioxidants in their diet, researchers don't know the antioxidant levels at this time.

She and Singh also stressed that reactive oxygen species represent only one cause of tumor-related cardiac damage, and that there is still much to learn about how antioxidants can fit into a therapeutic plan.

Despite the fact that this study focused on one cancer-causing gene to investigate the mechanism of heart injury in fruit flies, the researchers first examined the impact of many cancer-causing genes in the flies. Depending on the gene, the heart function was impaired, and the severity of the effects on the heart differed. Rao intends to continue his genetic research in fruit flies and to examine the healing benefits of antioxidants on the hearts of tumor-bearing animals.

Singh is collecting blood samples from cancer patients with heart failure in collaboration with specialists at Ohio State and other universities.

"Since the signal is moving from the tumor to the heart, and the tissue connecting these places is blood, the question is whether reactive oxygen species are traveling through the blood," he explained. "On the clinical front, our main goal is to find a link between various oncogenic pathways and heart failure. Second, we want to figure out what the message is and whether or not antioxidants may be prescribed."

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