Major, Robert J. Department of Biology, Indiana University of Pennsylvania, Indiana, Pennsylvania.
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- Regenerative medicine
- Cardiac stem cells
- Zebrafish model system
- Neonatal mouse heart
- Links to Primary Literature
- Additional Readings
The regenerative capacity of cardiac cells and tissues. Heart regeneration involves the regrowth and replacement of cardiac cells and tissues that have been lost or damaged through disease or age. In terms of function, heart tissues obtain their oxygenated blood supply through a series of spider leg–like blood vessels called coronary arteries. The primary cause of heart attacks is a block (myocardial infarction) in this coronary network, thereby precluding downstream cardiac cells from receiving oxygen and nutrients. Subsequent cardiomyocyte (heart muscle cell) death is a precursor to the replacement of functional cardiac muscle with scar tissue. Scarring leads to further pathology and loss of cardiac output. Thus, the restorative capacity of the heart (Fig. 1) is an important area of research, especially as heart disease is the leading cause of death in both men and women. However, investigators are only at the early stages in their attempts to unravel the regenerative potential of cardiac cells and tissues, especially with regard to adult mammalian hearts. See also: Blood vessel; Cardiovascular system; Heart (invertebrate); Heart (vertebrate); Heart disorders; Muscle development and regeneration; Regenerative biology; Restoring regeneration
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