Newborn heart muscle can grow back by itself, UT Southwestern researchers have found

February 24, 2011

DALLAS - Feb. 24, 2011 - In a promising science-fiction-meets-real-world juxtaposition, researchers at UT Southwestern Medical Center have discovered that the mammalian newborn heart can heal itself completely.

Researchers, working with mice, found that a portion of the heart removed during the first week after birth grew back wholly and correctly - as if nothing had happened.

"This is an important step in our search for a cure for heart disease, the No. 1 killer in the developed world," said Dr. Hesham Sadek, assistant professor of internal medicine and senior author of the study available online in the Feb. 25 issue of Science. "We found that the heart of newborn mammals can fix itself; it just forgets how as it gets older. The challenge now is to find a way to remind the adult heart how to fix itself again."

Previous research has demonstrated that the lower organisms, like some fish and amphibians, that can regrow fins and tails, can also regrow portions of their hearts after injury.

"In contrast, the hearts of adult mammals lack the ability to regrow lost or damaged tissue, and as a result, when the heart is injured, for example after a heart attack, it gets weaker, which eventually leads to heart failure," Dr. Sadek said.

The researchers found that within three weeks of removing 15 percent of the newborn mouse heart, the heart was able to completely grow back the lost tissue, and as a result looked and functioned just like a normal heart. The researchers believe that uninjured beating heart cells, called cardiomyocytes, are a major source of the new cells. They stop beating long enough to divide and provide the heart with fresh cardiomyocytes.

Dr. Eric Olson, chairman of molecular biology and co-senior author of the study, said that this work is fascinating.

"The inability of the adult heart to regenerate following injury represents a major barrier in cardiovascular medicine," said Dr. Olson, who directs the Nancy B. and Jake L. Hamon Center for Basic Research in Cancer and the Nearburg Family Center for Basic and Clinical Research in Pediatric Oncology. "This work demonstrates that cardiac regeneration is possible in the mammalian heart during a window of time after birth, but this regenerative ability is then lost. Armed with this knowledge, we can next work to discover methods to reawaken cardiac regeneration in adulthood."

The next step, the researchers said, is to study this brief window when the heart is still capable of regeneration, and to find out how, and why, the heart "turns off" this remarkable ability to regenerate as it grows older.
-end-
Other UT Southwestern researchers involved in the study were Dr. Enzo Porrello, postdoctoral research fellow in molecular biology and the paper's lead author; Ahmed Mahmoud, graduate research assistant in internal medicine; Emma Simpson, research assistant in pathology; Dr. Joseph Hill, chief of cardiology; and Dr. James Richardson, professor of pathology and molecular biology.

The study was funded by the National Health and Medical Research Council, the National Heart Foundation of Australia and the American Heart Association.

This news release is available on our World Wide Web home page at http://www.utsouthwestern.edu/home/news/index.html

To automatically receive news releases from UT Southwestern via e-mail, subscribe at www.utsouthwestern.edu/receivenews

UT Southwestern Medical Center

Related Molecular Biology Articles from Brightsurf:

Likely molecular mechanisms of SARS-CoV-2 pathogenesis are revealed by network biology
Researchers have built an interactome that includes the lung-epithelial cell host interactome integrated with a SARS-CoV-2 interactome.

Cell biology: Your number's up!
mRNAs program the synthesis of proteins in cells, and their functional lifetimes are dynamically regulated.

Cell biology: All in a flash!
Scientists of Ludwig-Maximilians-Universitaet (LMU) in Munich have developed a tool to eliminate essential proteins from cells with a flash of light.

A biology boost
Assistance during the first years of a biology major leads to higher retention of first-generation students.

Scientists find biology's optimal 'molecular alphabet' may be preordained
Life uses 20 coded amino acids (CAAs) to construct proteins.

Molecular biology: Phaser neatly arranges nucleosomes
LMU researchers have, for the first time, systematically determined the positioning of the packing units of the fruit fly genome, and discovered a new protein that defines their relationship to the DNA sequence.

Molecular virologist fights influenza at the molecular level
In research to improve influenza therapies against H7N9 and other influenza strains, Chad Petit and his University of Alabama at Birmingham colleagues have detailed the binding site and mechanism of inhibition for two small-molecule experimental inhibitors of influenza viruses.

The complicated biology of garlic
Researchers generally agree that garlic, used for thousands of years to treat human disease, can reduce the risk of developing certain kinds of cancers, cardiovascular disease, and type 2 diabetes.

Study suggests molecular imaging strategy for determining molecular classifications of NSCLC
Recent findings suggest a novel positron emission tomography (PET) imaging approach determining epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) mutation status for improved lung cancer patient management.

The biology of color
Scientists are on a threshold of a new era of color science with regard to animals, according to a comprehensive review of the field by a multidisciplinary team of researchers led by professor Tim Caro at UC Davis.

Read More: Molecular Biology News and Molecular Biology Current Events
Brightsurf.com is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com.