Heart Development

Coronary artery smooth muscle origin

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Science  20 Nov 2015:
Vol. 350, Issue 6263, pp. 924-925
DOI: 10.1126/science.350.6263.924-f

Cardiovascular diseases, such as atherosclerosis, heart failure, and heart valve problems, are a major cause of death worldwide. Defining mechanisms of normal heart development may reveal ways to manipulate cells and guide treatment. Volz et al. now identify pericytes as the progenitors to the smooth muscle of coronary arteries, the vessels supplying blood to ventricular heart muscle. Coronary artery smooth muscle cells (caSMCs) are found deep in the myocardium; however, they originate from the mesothelial covering of the heart, or epicardium. Clonal analysis and lineage tracing studies reveal that in embryos, Notch-responsive pericytes lining the coronary vascular plexus and located near arteries develop into caSMCs. Such progenitor cells are also present in the adult heart, suggesting possible relevance to heart regeneration therapies.

eLife 10.7554/eLife.10036 (2015).

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