How Ca2+ATPase Empowers Physicians

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Imagine a revolutionary diagnostic tool that would prove useful for a range of health conditions in people of all ages. That vision is attainable. We want to unlock the full potential of Ca2+ATPase as a unique and significant determinant of health and wellness. 

In my book ‘The Calcium Connection,’ My learned colleague Doctor Russell Dahl, Ph.D., describes Ca2+ATPase as an exquisite barometer for health. Ca2+ATPase exists on cell and organelle membranes, where it plays a pivotal role in calcium transport, energy conversion, and information transmission.

Through his extensive research, Dr. Dahl recognizes the decisive role that calcium handling plays in human health and disease pathogenesis. Ca2+ATPase is a biomarker that can universally affect critical health outcomes. In other words, knowing your Ca2+ATPase levels means knowing your risk for disease.

We hope our work inspires a revolution in thinking about the origins of disease. Let’s explore how appreciating Ca2+ATPase function can underpin your work as a physician and benefit your patients.

Ca2+ATPase and age-related diseases

As we age, Ca2+ATPase levels naturally decrease in tissues throughout the body, including the brain, heart, blood vessels, and skeletal muscles. As Ca2+ATPase declines, age-related diseases such as Alzheimer’s, heart failure, high blood pressure, and muscle weakness can develop. 

For example, calcium is fundamental in controlling synaptic activity and memory formation. The aging brain has decreased Ca2+ATPase levels in the cortex, striatum, and hippocampus. Without optimal calcium transport, intracellular calcium increases, which is a factor of degenerative brain diseases. 

Animal research shows that the brain’s synaptic plasma membrane, which protects against degeneration, reduces in mass alongside decreased levels of Ca2+ATPase. On the other hand, properly controlled calcium homeostasis supports normal brain physiology, maintains neuronal integrity, and long-term cell survival.

States of ill health and disease increase exponentially with age, with a considerable proportion of these individuals dying of age-related causes. You can delay and prevent these conditions by working to support healthy levels of Ca2+ATPase in older patients.

Contraindications from prescription drugs

Doctors write around 6 billion prescriptions annually in the US, and the number is increasing every year. Although most of these drugs are necessary to preserve and improve health, some prescription medicines have a deleterious effect on Ca2+ ATPase.

In my book ‘The Calcium Connection’ I include a comprehensive list of drugs that affect Ca2+ ATPase. Here’s a brief overview.

Celecoxib (Celebrex)

Celebrex inhibits Ca2+ ATPase at various sites in the body, including the prostate, smooth muscle, breast, and fibroblasts. Patients who take Celebrex have an increase in incidences of major cardiovascular events and gastrointestinal complications. 

Antifungal drugs

The Imidazole antifungals harm Ca2+ ATPase levels in the heart, skeletal muscle, and lymphocytes.  

These drugs also have a well-documented history of causing liver toxicity and potential cardiac issues. Prescribing these drugs may be unduly risky in older elderly patients, especially given findings of the significant role reduced Ca2+ ATPase plays in heart failure.

Antimalarial drugs: Mefloquine

Malaria remains one of the largest global causes of death. Drugs to treat and prevent it, such as mefloquine, are commonplace. 

The FDA issued a warning that mefloquine can have serious neurologic and psychiatric side effects. Compounding the damage further is mefloquine’s negative repercussions on Ca2+ ATPase levels in the brain and skeletal muscle.     

Considering how medications could affect Ca2+ ATPase leads to improved health outcomes for patients, especially those deemed more vulnerable.

Healthy lifestyle choices

As physicians, it’s rewarding to direct patients toward healthier lifestyle choices that improve and repair health. You provide the core information to empower patients to manage their own conditions. Ca2+ ATPase levels provide a framework for making good health decisions.

It is, in essence, simple. When the body can’t regulate intracellular calcium levels, dysfunction occurs. With correct calcium regulation, we are less vulnerable to many chronic diseases, namely cancer, diabetes, heart disease, and Alzheimer’s.  

Unfortunately, it’s not only medications that can negatively affect Ca2+ ATPase. Dietary choices, exposure to pesticides and toxins, alcohol, recreational drugs, and stress also play their part. 

Taking regular exercise for heart failure patients and avoiding chemicals that cause cancer, and the negative effects of stress are standard pieces of advice given when doctors counsel their patients. When people make healthy lifestyle choices, they inadvertently improve Ca2+ ATPase levels. 

Advise patients of these actionable steps that support the enzyme Ca2+ATPase:

  • Eliminate exposure to environmental toxins and pesticides
  • Stop smoking
  • Reduce alcohol consumption
  • Consume less sugar
  • Exercise regularly
  • Reduce stress 
  • Take natural supplements like green tea, ginger, and alpha-lipoic acid

Future directions

The past two decades have witnessed a growing interest in intracellular calcium and Ca2+ATPase as a key regulator of cellular health.

Current research focuses on isolating compounds and genes that stimulate Ca2+ATPase to treat diseases such as cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and Alzheimer’s. 

Recent compelling research includes findings that Istaroxime, a novel cardiac drug, stimulates Ca2+ATPase in the heart, promoting normal function in patients with cardiovascular failure. 

Ca2+ATPase activation may hold promise as an effective therapy for type-2 diabetes and metabolic dysfunction. When researchers tested a compound that activates Ca2+ATPase in type 2 diabetic mice, they showed lower fasting blood glucose and improved glucose tolerance.

Dr. Dahl’s biopharmaceutical company, Neurodon, develops medicines to improve cognition in Alzheimer’s Disease. His recent work involves a novel compound that targets and activates Ca2+ATPase in the brain. It showed promise in improving both memory and cognition in mice models.  

As a director of Neurodon, I’m delighted to announce that we recently received a $2 million grant from the National Institute on Aging at the National Institutes of Health to further our Alzheimer’s research. 

We are working toward translating our research bench to bedside and developing a reliable and rapid test for Ca2+ATPase to empower physicians.

My goal is to raise awareness of Ca2+ATPase, why it’s essential to health, and what you, as physicians, can do to help your patients preserve this precious enzyme. 

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CA2+ATPASE Molecule - Illustration