New role found for a cardiac progenitor population

May 14, 2008

In a discovery that could one day lead to an understanding of how to regenerate damaged heart tissue, researchers at the University of California, San Diego have found that parent cells involved in embryonic development of the epicardium – the cell layer surrounding the outside of the heart – give rise to three important types of cells with potential for cardiac repair.

In a study published online May 14 in advance of publication in the journal Nature, researchers led by Sylvia Evans, Ph.D., professor of pharmacology at the Skaggs School of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences and professor of medicine at UC San Diego, discovered in mice that developing embryonic cells that form the epicardium develop into cardiomyocytes, or muscle cells, as well as into connective tissue and vascular support cells of the heart.

The UCSD team generated mice which enabled lineage studies of epicardial cells, utilizing a marker for these lineages called a T-box transcription factor, Tbx18. “The surprising finding was that during the earliest stages of development, myocytes are also generated from parent cells within the embryonic epicardium,” said Evans. The Evans lab went on to demonstrate that, in the adult mouse, epicardial cells have lost their earlier embryonic ability to generate cardiomyocytes.

“Our findings raise the possibility that if we can restore the ability of adult epicardial cells in mammals to generate cardiomyocytes, it may enhance their future potential for cardiac repair following injury, such as a heart attack,” said co-first author Jody C. Martin of UCSD’s Department of Bioengineering.

While the adult mammalian heart has lost this capacity to generate new heart muscle, according to Evans, other investigators have demonstrated that zebrafish can fully regenerate their hearts following injury. This regeneration is associated with migration of Tbx 18-expressing cells to the site of injury, and the new formation of cardiomycytes.

If Tbx18-cell migration is prevented, there is no repair. The UCSD researchers’ findings suggest that one reason that zebrafish can regenerate their hearts may be that adult zebrafish epicardium somehow retains the capacity to generate cardiomyocytes.

Source: University of California - San Diego

Explore further: Scientists discover an on/off switch for aging cells

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Team makes scientific history with new cellular connection

Sep 11, 2014

Researchers led by Dr. Helen McNeill at the Lunenfeld-Tanenbaum Research Institute have revealed an exciting and unusual biochemical connection. Their discovery has implications for diseases linked to mitochondria, ...

Storing solar energy

Sep 01, 2014

A research project conducted by Leclanché S.A., the Ecole Polytechnique Federale de Lausanne (EPFL), Romande Energie and with the financial support of the Canton of Vaud could bring a real added value in ...

Tattoo biobatteries produce power from sweat

Aug 13, 2014

In the future, working up a sweat by exercising may not only be good for your health, but it could also power your small electronic devices. Researchers will report today that they have designed a sensor ...

Recommended for you

Scientists discover an on/off switch for aging cells

Sep 20, 2014

(Medical Xpress)—Scientists at the Salk Institute have discovered an on-and-off "switch" in cells that may hold the key to healthy aging. This switch points to a way to encourage healthy cells to keep dividing ...

Sierra Leone faces criticism over Ebola shutdown

Sep 20, 2014

Sierra Leone began the second day of a 72-hour nationwide shutdown aimed at containing the spread of the deadly Ebola virus on Saturday amid criticism that the action was a poorly planned publicity stunt.

Vitamin K antagonist plus clopidogrel feasible for PCI

Sep 19, 2014

(HealthDay)—Vitamin K antagonists (VKA) combined with clopidogrel may be a better alternative to triple anticoagulant therapy in patients on long-term VKA undergoing percutaneous coronary intervention (PCI) ...

Electronic health records tied to shorter time in ER

Sep 19, 2014

(HealthDay)—Length of emergency room stay for trauma patients is shorter with the use of electronic health records, according to a study published in the September issue of the Journal of Emergency Nursing.

User comments : 0