Can Muscle Cell Damage be Repaired After Heart Attack
The heart, like any other organ of the body, requires continuous supply of oxygen-rich blood, for its normal functioning. A section of the heart called aorta is the main supplier of oxygen-rich blood to the organ and to the rest of the body. It splits up into two pathways (technically called arteries) through which heart gets this supply. The right artery is small and supplies blood only to the lungs. The left artery is larger and branches out further in order to supply oxygen to the whole body.
When a material called plaque gets deposited in these arteries, it reduces the supply of blood to the heart. The plaque can clot the blood. Heart attacks occur when the arteries are completely blocked by the clot. Lack of oxygen supply through blood damages and eventually kills the muscles of the heart. Heart attack is considered dangerous by the doctors because cell regeneration of this organ is not easy in humans. But scientists at the Duke University Medical Center have learnt how heart’s cells regenerate and repair damaged ones in zebrafish. The knowledge can be extended and applied on developing new ways of therapy after heart attack in humans too. The details of the findings are published in the March edition of the journal Nature.
Knowledge Gained from the Research:
- A gene called Gata4 is required for the formation of heart at the time of birth.
- In order to detect the presence of this gene in the organ, the researchers used a technique called fluorescence.
- Initially, no fluorescence was observed in experimental zeberfish.
- As a part of research, the researchers clipped a section of heart in the zeberfish.
- It was then observed that a small number of heart cells started to regenerate and fluoresce, confirming the presence of Gata4 gene.
- The cells were found to grow near the injury site, bind with the wound and ultimately replace the injury causing clot.
- These observations confirmed that Gata4 gene not only generates heart cells but also helps them in growing and being functional.
- The mechanism of working of this gene is not understood yet.
- The research was primarily funded by American Heart Association and a group of institutions associated with heart research.