Laser treatment reduces scarring after heart attack

HAIFA, Israel and NEW YORK, N.Y., April 16, 2001 - Low-energy laser irradiation may reduce the severity of scarring of heart tissue caused by a heart attack, according to a study by researchers from the Technion-Israel Institute of Technology.

Low-energy laser irradiation has been shown to reduce biological "overreaction" to trauma in cell cultures and animal studies, but this study is among the first to explore its effect on alleviating some of the damaging effects of heart attacks. The results of the study were published in Circulation (January 16, 2001).

Other studies have focused on the use of drugs, growth factors and various intervention strategies in reducing myocardial infarct size and improvement of heart function after a heart attack. But low-energy laser irradiation seems to lessen the severity of a heart attack by increasing mitochondrial respiration and ATP, the major source for cellular energy production. The increase of both biological processes improves the cellular response to wounds, promoting healing and muscle regeneration after injury.

Mitochondria are rod-like structures in the cytoplasm, the substance of the body of the cell in which most cell activities occur. Mitochondria serve as the center of cellular enzyme activity.

In the study, researchers induced heart attacks in 50 dogs and 26 rats, half of whom received direct laser irradiation on the heart muscle after the chest was opened. Five to six weeks later, the animals were euthanized and the size of their infarcts, the areas of tissue death caused by a lack of oxygen, were examined. The laser treatment significantly lowered mortality from 30 percent to just 6.5 percent in the dogs after the induction of myocardial infarction.

"Our study demonstrated that the mortality rate was much lower in dogs treated with low-energy laser following myocardial infarction, compared with the control group," said Technion researcher Gal Hayam. "Pathologic examinations also revea

Contact: Adar Novak
American Society for Technion - Israel Institute of Technology

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