Besides its vital role in circulation, the heart has an important secondary function as an endocrine organs. A well known example is the natriuretic peptides released from cardiac cells, which can exert a wide range of physiological effects on other tissues such as the kidneys to control blood volume and pressure. In recent years, more and more proteins and peptides that are potentially released from the heart have been found in experiments, some of which may be important in human aging processes.
We asked how many of these heart-released proteins, or "cardiokines" there could potentially be that affects aging in other tissues of the body. To do that, we combined and analyzed large scale human data on heart-expressed transcripts as well as potential proteins in the human proteome that are released to the blood. A correlation analysis found that hundreds of cardiac transcripts could potentially change in expression levels as humans age, which could hint at important aging-related functions. More importantly, not every such gene has the same age-associated changes, with some that show different abundance only in particular tissues but not others, suggesting they could serve as a heart-specific aging signal. An exciting next step would be confirm these candidates in experimental systems such as human induced pluripotent stem cells to assess their functional impact.
Check out the mini-review on cardiokines written by Himangi and Marina at this link here!