Heart hold regenerating potential

21 August 2014

A new study, published in Cell Reports, found that endothelial cells in the coronary arteries are able to produce new, healthy heart muscle tissue.

The research, conducted by a team at the Vanderbilt University, could hold significance for patients who suffer a heart attack or are diagnosed with a disease that affects this essential organ.

Professor Antonis Hatzopoulos, of the university's Medicine and Cell and Developmental Biology department, said scientists have thought for a long time that the heart had the most potential for regeneration.

Along with colleagues, he wanted to find out whether endothelial cells, which line blood vessels, could generate new heart cells. Analysis of the cells found that endothelial cells in coronary arteries are able to generate new cardiac muscle cells in healthy hearts. 

"Our study suggests that coronary artery disease could lead to heart failure not only by blocking the arteries and causing heart attacks, but also by affecting the way the heart is maintained and regenerated," he said.

Further studies will be carried out to explain why the endothelial system generates muscle cells during homeostasis, but then starts to generate scar tissue after injury, which leads to scar tissue developing.

Posted by Edward Bartel


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