Acute myocardial infarctions are a common cause of heart failure and early death in the elderly. Recent studies challenge the idea that a molecule called growth differentiation factor 11 (GDF11) that belongs to the transforming growth factor beta (TGF-β) superfamily exerts heart-rejuvenating effects, as initially proposed by impactful work. In close collaboration with international experts in the field (Harvard Medical School, Boston, MA, USA; Cardiocentro Ticino Institute, Lugano, Switzerland; University of Genoa, Genoa, Italy; among others) most recent work by S. Kraler and A. Akhmedov indicates that, contrary to the initial belief, high circulating GDF11 increases experimental myocardial injury evoked by acute myocardial infarction in an age-independent fashion. Similarly, in patients with heart attacks, levels of circulating GDF11 increase with age and are independently linked to the extent of myocardial injury. This suggests that high levels of GDF11 – in stark contrast to the initial belief - contributes to the age-related decline in endogenous cardioprotective mechanisms, rendering elderly patients more vulnerable to negative outcomes following heart attacks.
Read full article (Cardiovascular Research (2023) 00, 1–14)