During embryonic development, the all-important coronary arteries arise from cells previously considered incapable of producing them, according to scientists at Albert Einstein College of Medicine of Yeshiva University. The research, carried out in mice and published today in the online edition of the journal Cell, may speed development of regenerative therapies for heart disease.
The research, carried out in mice and published today in the online edition of the journal Cell, may speed development of regenerative therapies for heart disease.
Each year, more than one million Americans undergo coronary revascularization which includes coronary artery bypass graft (CABG). During CABG, doctors remove a portion of a healthy vein, usually from a patient-s leg, then bypass diseased areas of the coronary arteries. While the procedure has become routine and is considered relatively safe and long-lasting, the veins used during bypass do not completely mimic the arteries they bypass. They can sometimes re-clog, a process known as restenosis, requiring further procedures. Therefore, the ability to regenerate coronary arteries could usher in a new wave of more effective cardiac care.
Coronary arteries nourish heart muscle with the nutrients and oxygen it needs for pumping. Heart attacks occur when coronary arteries become blocked, causing heart muscle to die. Recent studies had suggested that during development, the coronary arteries originate from cells of the sinus venosus (a heart cavity that exists only in embryos) or from the epicardium (the heart-s outermost layer).
In their study, Einstein scientists used a wide variety of research tools to show that the coronary arteries largely arise from cells of the endocardium, the heart-s innermost cell layer. In particular, the arteries arise from endocardial cells lining the ventricles (the two large chambers of the heart).
-The prevailing wisdom was that endocardial cells are terminally differentiated, meaning they cannot become any other cell type,- said study leader Bin Zhou, M.D., Ph.D., associate professor of genetics, of pediatrics, and of medicine at Einstein.-But our study shows that one population of endocardial cells is actually responsible for forming the coronary arteries.-