Researchers isolate and purify mouse heart stem cells

Feb 26, 2009 By Krishna Ramanujan
This image shows isolated, beating green heart stem cells in culture.

(PhysOrg.com) -- A pioneering Cornell and University of Bonn study has isolated and purified mouse heart stem cells, settling a debate over whether such cells exist.

The findings, published online and in an upcoming issue of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, could allow researchers to better understand whether genes can spur heart stem cells to fully differentiate into new cells after a heart attack.

The researchers, led by Michael I. Kotlikoff, the Austin O. Hooey Dean of Veterinary Medicine at Cornell, used a green fluorescent protein to label mouse heart precursor (or stem) cells and identify the cells during embryo development and immediately following birth. The fluorescent protein label also revealed that the number of cells, which differentiate into all three heart cell types (cardiac, endothelial and smooth muscle), decline drastically soon after birth.

The new method could be used to quickly and rapidly isolate and purify both heart and other stem cell populations in the laboratory; to study gene expression that leads to these cells differentiating into other cell types; to track the timing of these cells and when and where they differentiate into other cell types in vivo; and to compare heart stem cells with other types of stem cells.

"The existence of cardiac stem cells and the ability of adult stem cells to form new heart muscle have been the subject of much scientific disagreement, as there are so few of these cells in the adult heart," said Kotlikoff, who co-authored the study with Yvonne Tallini, a Cornell research scientist in biomedical sciences, and Bernd Fleischmann of the University of Bonn.

"We now have a simple way to identify these cells within the heart and to isolate and study the factors that control their fate," Kotlikoff added.

Researchers had questioned the existence of these cells, because the heart has very little regenerative capacity after an infarction, which creates a permanent scar. To address this question, the group looked for the cells after heart infarction, and found that heart stem cells form vessels that invade the scar tissue, but do not form new heart cells. Heart cells surrounding the dead tissue express a protein marker for these stem cells at low levels, suggesting that they are attempting to respond to grow new heart cells after an injury, but the response is incomplete. This may explain the detection of these cells after an injury, but their failure to re-grow new heart tissue.

Provided by Cornell University

Explore further: Ocean microbes display remarkable genetic diversity

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Researchers successfully clone adult human stem cells

Apr 18, 2014

(Phys.org) β€”An international team of researchers, led by Robert Lanza, of Advanced Cell Technology, has announced that they have performed the first successful cloning of adult human skin cells into stem ...

New method increases supply of embryonic stem cells

Jan 27, 2014

A new method allows for large-scale generation of human embryonic stem cells of high clinical quality. It also allows for production of such cells without destroying any human embryos. The discovery is a big step forward ...

Recommended for you

Ocean microbes display remarkable genetic diversity

1 hour ago

The smallest, most abundant marine microbe, Prochlorococcus, is a photosynthetic bacteria species essential to the marine ecosystem. An estimated billion billion billion of the single-cell creatures live i ...

Cell resiliency surprises scientists

3 hours ago

New research shows that cells are more resilient in taking care of their DNA than scientists originally thought. Even when missing critical components, cells can adapt and make copies of their DNA in an alternative ...

Cell division speed influences gene architecture

Apr 23, 2014

Speed-reading is a technique used to read quickly. It involves visual searching for clues to meaning and skipping non-essential words and/ or sentences. Similarly to humans, biological systems are sometimes ...

User comments : 0

More news stories

Genetic code of the deadly tsetse fly unraveled

Mining the genome of the disease-transmitting tsetse fly, researchers have revealed the genetic adaptions that allow it to have such unique biology and transmit disease to both humans and animals.

Ocean microbes display remarkable genetic diversity

The smallest, most abundant marine microbe, Prochlorococcus, is a photosynthetic bacteria species essential to the marine ecosystem. An estimated billion billion billion of the single-cell creatures live i ...

Study links California drought to global warming

While researchers have sometimes connected weather extremes to man-made global warming, usually it is not done in real time. Now a study is asserting a link between climate change and both the intensifying California drought ...

Autism Genome Project delivers genetic discovery

A new study from investigators with the Autism Genome Project, the world's largest research project on identifying genes associated with risk for autism, has found that the comprehensive use of copy number variant (CNV) genetic ...