Heart Disease

Patching up the injured heart

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Science  23 Oct 2015:
Vol. 350, Issue 6259, pp. 395-396
DOI: 10.1126/science.350.6259.395-g

During a heart attack, heart muscle is deprived of oxygen and nutrients and dies as a result. Because heart muscle cells, or cardiomyocytes, have a limited capacity to divide, this damage is often permanent. Wei et al. describe an intervention that may help minimize the damage. Working with mice, they applied a collagen patch containing a protein called follistatin-like 1 to the heart immediately after a heart attack. Four weeks later, they saw signs of cardiomyocyte division, new blood vessel growth, and reduced scarring, which are consistent with heart muscle regeneration. Mysteriously, follistatin-like 1 has this beneficial activity only when it is synthesized by cells in the epicardium (a membrane layer surrounding the heart); myocardial-derived follistatin-like 1 was inactive.

Nature 525, 479 (2015).

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