Re-Growing Heart Tissue After Damage

Re-Growing Heart Tissue After Damage

Reported July 23, 2009

(Ivanhoe Newswire) — Heart tissue has been known to not have the ability to re-grow, but researchers at Children’s Hospital Boston are working on ways to regenerate heart tissue after damage.

Researchers found after injecting animals with the growth factor neuregulin1 (NRG1) following a heart attack, heart regeneration increased and pumping function improved compared with controls. The animals were injected once daily for 12 weeks following a heart attack. Researchers were able to restart the cell cycle with NRG1, stimulating cardiomyocytes to divide and make copies of themselves even though they were not stem cells.



The mice who received NRG1 did not have the left-ventricular dilation and cardiac hypertrophy, which are usually encountered in heart failure. The researchers also stimulated production of a cellular receptor for NRG1, known as ErB4, and found that cardiomyocyte proliferation was further enhanced.

“NRG1 works when given by systemic injection — a very promising result that suggests it may be feasible to use this in the clinic to treat heart failure,” Bernhard Kuhn, M.D., a pediatric cardiologist at Children’s Hospital Boston and the study’s senior investigator, was quoted saying.

Experts hope the study results will lead to improved treatments for patients who suffer heart attacks or heart failure as well as children with congenital heart defects.

SOURCE: Cell, July 2009