What fuels the beating heart?

A first-of-its-kind Penn Medicine study paints a detailed picture of the heart’s fuel and nutrient use.

A team led by scientists in the Perelman School of Medicine has produced a detailed picture of fuel and nutrient use by the human heart. The study, published in Science, was the first of its kind, involving the simultaneous sampling of blood from different parts of the circulatory system in dozens of human participants, in order to record the levels of related molecules going into and coming out of the beating heart.

Gold-colored human heart model

The resulting data have revealed key features of fuel use in the normal heart as well as the failing heart, establishing a new framework for studying the heart in health and disease.

“Understanding, at this level of detail, how the heart handles fuel and nutrients should inform the development of future treatments for heart failure and related conditions,” says study senior author Zoltan Arany, a professor of medicine and director of the Cardiovascular Metabolism Program at Penn Medicine. “Now that we have a clear picture of how the heart fuels itself, we can set our sights on devising ways to improve heart metabolism in heart failure.”

Read more at Penn Medicine News.