Thursday, June 20, 2013

Fate of the Heart: Researchers Track Cellular Events Leading to Cardiac Regeneration

Studies in zebrafish reveal abundant potential source for repair of injured heart muscle
 
In a study published in the June 19 online edition of the journal Nature, a scientific team led by researchers from the University of California, San Diego School of Medicine visually monitored the dynamic cellular events that take place when cardiac regeneration occurs in zebrafish after cardiac ventricular injury. Their findings provide evidence that various cell lines in the heart are more plastic, or capable of transformation into new cell types, than previously thought.

More importantly, the research reveals a novel potential source of cells for regenerating damaged heart muscle, according to principal investigator Neil Chi, MD, PhD, assistant professor of medicine in the Division of Cardiology and member of the Institute of Genomic Medicine at UC San Diego.

Heart failure remains the leading cause of death in the developed world, largely due to the inability of mammalian hearts to regenerate new cells and repair themselves. However, lower vertebrates such as zebrafish are capable of generating new ventricular heart muscle cells, or cardiomyocytes, that can replace the heart muscle lost through ischemia-induced infarcts – more commonly known in humans as heart attacks.

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