Researchers examine developing hearts in chickens to find solutions for human heart abnormalities (Video)

Jan 21, 2009

When it is head versus heart, the heart comes first. The heart is the first organ to develop and is critical in supplying blood to the rest of the body. Yet, little is known about the complex processes that regulate the heartbeat.

By studying chickens' hearts, a University of Missouri researcher has identified certain proteins within the heart muscle that play an important regulatory role in embryonic heartbeat control. Understanding these components and how they interact will give researchers a better understanding of heart development and abnormalities in humans.

In the study, researchers examined embryonic chickens' hearts, which develop morphologically and functionally similarly to humans' hearts, and tested the electrical activity present in the cardiac muscle cells over a period of 24 hours. They found that changes in local proteins have important effects on embryonic heart beat control.

This video is not supported by your browser at this time.
Researchers examined embryonic chickens' hearts and tested the electrical activity present in the cardiac muscle cells over a period of 24 hours. They found that changes in local proteins have important effects on embryonic heart beat control. Video courtesy of Dr. Luis Polo-Parada.

"Electrical activity in the heart appears in very early stages of development," said Luis Polo-Parada, assistant professor in the Department of Medical Pharmacology and Physiology in the MU School of Medicine and investigator in the Dalton Cardiovascular Research Center. "This study determined the role of the heart microenvironment in regulating electrical activity in cardiac cells that are required for normal cardiac function. Understanding exactly how a heart is made and how it begins to function will allow us to significantly improve therapies for a wide range of cardiac anomalies, injuries and diseases such as hypertension, cardiac fibrosis, cardiac hypertrophy and congestive heart failure."

Cardiac function depends on appropriate timing of contraction in various regions of the heart. Fundamental to the control of the heart are the electrical signals that arise within the heart cells that initiate contraction of the heart muscle. The upper chambers of the heart, the atria, must contract before the lower chambers, the ventricles, to obtain a coordinated contraction that will propel the blood throughout the body. While scientists understand the gross actions of the electrical signals that drive cardiac contraction, little is known about changes in the local environment of the embryonic and adult heart cells that influence these contractions.

The study "Cardiac Cushions Modulate Action Potential Phenotype During Heart Development," has been accepted for publication in Developmental Dynamics.

Source: University of Missouri-Columbia

Explore further: Gut microbial mix relates to stages of blood sugar control

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

New study shows safer methods for stem cell culturing

Feb 25, 2015

A new study led by researchers at The Scripps Research Institute (TSRI) and the University of California (UC), San Diego School of Medicine shows that certain stem cell culture methods are associated with increased DNA mutations. ...

Resolving to stay fit in space and on Earth

Feb 23, 2015

In February, our attention turns to romantic matters of the heart. As American Heart Month, this month is also a time to focus on heart health and a perfect excuse to start working out to improve your physical ...

How tuna stay warm with cold hearts

Feb 05, 2015

Scientists at The University of Manchester, working with colleagues at Stanford University in America, have discovered how prized bluefin tuna keep their hearts pumping during temperature changes that would ...

Cellulose with Braille for cells

Jan 19, 2015

Artificial implants such as pacemakers often cause complications because the body identifies them as foreign objects. Researchers at ETH Zurich have now demonstrated a simple method to fabricate cellulose-sheaths ...

Recommended for you

Gut microbial mix relates to stages of blood sugar control

9 hours ago

The composition of intestinal bacteria and other micro-organisms—called the gut microbiota—changes over time in unhealthy ways in black men who are prediabetic, a new study finds. The results will be presented Friday ...

User comments : 0

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.