Evolutionary cardiology and experimental research




Agustina Cano-Martínez, Department of Physiology, Instituto Nacional de Cardiología Ignacio Chávez, Mexico City, Mexico
Ma. Esther Rubio-Ruiz, Department of Physiology, Instituto Nacional de Cardiología Ignacio Chávez, Mexico City, Mexico
Verónica Guarner-Lans, Department of Physiology, Instituto Nacional de Cardiología Ignacio Chávez, Mexico City, Mexico


Evolutionary medicine studies the role of evolution in health problems. Diseases are considered as phenotypes generated by the expression of sets of genes and a complex interplay with the environment. The main mechanisms involved in evolutionary medicine are antagonistic pleiotropy, ecological antagonistic pleiotropy, atavisms and heterochrony. Antagonistic pleiotropism refers to genes that are beneficial during certain stages of development but become detrimental in others. Ecological antagonistic pleiotropy refers to the misadaptation to current lifestyle conditions which are different from those in which humans evolved. These mechanisms participate in the development of congestive heart failure, hypertension and atherosclerosis. Atavistic conditions or genes are expressed in our ancestors but have remained silent during evolution being suddenly expressed without an apparent cause during the appearance of a disease is another mechanism in evolutionary cardiology. The change in the heart metabolism from fatty acid to glucose dependent can be considered as an atavistic condition that appears in the heart after a stroke and may underlie impaired cardiomyocyte regeneration. Heterochrony is the expression of genes that cause the appearance of traits at a different timing during development and is therefore related to atavisms. Evolutionary medicine explains the interactions of pathogens and the host in infectious diseases where the cardiac tissue becomes a target. Mechanisms involved in evolutionary medicine participate in the generation of diseases and may be approached experimentally. Therefore, to better understand health problems and therapeutical approaches, an evolutionary medicine approach in experimental medicine may prove useful.



Keywords: Evolution. Experimental Cardiology. Pleiotropy. Atavism. Heterochrony. Neoteny.