21 Aug Coronary Arteries Supply Stem Cells To Generate New Heart Muscle
MedicalResearch.com Interview with:
Antonis Hatzopoulos, PhD, FAHA
Associate Professor of Medicine- Division of Cardiovascular Medicine
Associate Professor of Cell & Developmental Biology
Vanderbilt Center for Stem Cell Biology
Nashville, TN 37232-6300
Medical Research: What are the main findings of the study?
Dr. Hatzopoulos: Using cell tracking in the normal adult mouse heart, we found that endothelial cells can function as cardiac stem cells to generate new heart muscle. Our results show that besides heart muscle, endothelial cells produce quiescent and proliferating cardiac progenitor cells that reside in the media and adventitia layers of the coronary arteries, respectively.
Medical Research: Were any of the findings unexpected?
Dr. Hatzopoulos: We and others have previously shown that after injury, by a process called endothelial-to mesenchymal-transition, heart endothelial cells give rise to myofibroblasts that lay down scar tissue. But that endothelial cells can also produce cardiac myocytes in the healthy heart was totally unexpected.
What should clinicians and patients take away from your report?
Dr. Hatzopoulos: Two things:
First, our study suggests that coronary arteries function as the cardiac stem cell niche. We think it is likely that Coronary Artery Disease, besides its risk for an infarction, also compromises the regeneration of the “normal wear and tear” in the heart.
Second, our study suggests that heart regeneration and scar formation are two sides of the same coin, opening new possibilities to restore heart muscle after a heart attack or heart failure.
Medical Research: What recommendations do you have for future research as a result of this study?
Dr. Hatzopoulos: I believe we need to study the mechanisms that regulate the fate switch from muscle to scar and search for drugs that can restore heart muscle regeneration in acute or chronic heart injuries.
Endothelial Cells Contribute to Generation of Adult Ventricular Myocytes during Cardiac Homeostasis
Cell Volume 8, Issue 1, p229–241, 10 July 2014
Bryan A. Fioret, Jeremy D. HeimfeldDavid T. Paik, Antonis K. Hatzopoulos