Fort Collins, Colo.
-- Veterinary researchers at Colorado State University discovered that cells in diseased heart valves of dogs and humans produce serotonin, which they believe may be the driving force behind mitral-valve disease in both.
Dr. Chris Orton, a cardiac surgeon at CSU’s Veterinary Teaching Hospital, was already investigating the role of serotonin in canine heart-valve disease, based on the already known fact that certain drugs that enhance serotonin production in humans, such as antidepressants and appetite suppressants, can cause drug-induced heart-valve disease.
Orton’s research group noted that diseased cells in naturally occurring heart-valve disease, known as degenerative myxomatous heart-valve disease, produce serotonin locally, and they now are attempting to learn what triggers the enzyme in the valve that makes serotonin.
Orton would like to conduct a clinical trial on dogs to study the impact of a drug that inhibits the serotonin-producing enzyme.
Mitral-valve disease affects the mitral valve, one of two valves on the left side of the heart, causing it to become deformed and eventually to leak.
The CSU group’s discovery refutes the belief that the disease, the No. 1 heart disease in dogs, is an inevitable part of the aging process.