Molecule prompts damaged heart cells to repair themselves after a heart attack

April 10, 2009,
Drs. J. Michael DiMaio and Ildiko Bock-Marquette have found in mice that the molecule Thymosin beta-4 affects developmental gene expression in heart cells as early as 24 hours after systemic injection. The new findings suggest that introducing TB4 after a heart attack encourages new growth and repair of these cells. Credit: UT Southwestern Medical Center

A protein that the heart produces during its early development reactivates the embryonic coronary developmental program and initiates migration of heart cells and blood vessel growth after a heart attack, researchers at UT Southwestern Medical Center have found.

The molecule, Thymosin beta-4 (TB4), is expressed by during the heart's development and encourages migration of heart cells. The new findings in mice suggest that introducing TB4 systemically after a heart attack encourages new growth and repair of heart cells. The research findings indicate that the molecule affects developmental gene expression as early as 24 hours after systemic injection. The UT Southwestern study is online and will appear in an upcoming issue of the Journal of Molecular and Cellular Cardiology.

"This molecule has the potential to reprogram cells in the body to get them to do what you want them to do," said Dr. J. Michael DiMaio, associate professor of cardiothoracic surgery at UT Southwestern and senior author of the study. Obviously, the clinical implications of this are enormous because of the potential to reverse damage inflicted on heart cells after a heart attack."

Tremendous medical progress has been made to counter the damaging effects of heart attacks, but ordinarily, mammalian hearts are incapable of repairing themselves following damage. They are also limited in their ability to form new blood vessels. Earlier studies demonstrated that TB4 is expressed in the embryonic heart and stimulates cardiac vessels to form. It was therefore thought that introduction of TB4 might activate new in the adult heart.

In this mouse study researchers found that TB4 initiates capillary tube formation of adult coronary endothelial cells in tissue culture. The molecule also encourages cardiac regeneration by inhibiting death in after an injury such as a heart attack and by stimulating new vessel growth.

"We observed that by injecting this protein systemically, there was increased cardiac function after a heart attack," said Dr. Ildiko Bock-Marquette, assistant professor of cardiothoracic surgery at UT Southwestern and the study's lead author. "We hope this protein can inhibit cell death that occurs during a heart attack in the short term, and that it may initiate new growth of coronary vessels by activating progenitor cells in the long term."

Researchers assessed the effect of TB4 on new vessel growth in adult mice after inducing heart attacks and then following up by introducing TB4 into the animals. An examination of the capillary smooth muscle cells following treatment with TB4 showed a significant increase in capillary density in the three days afterward near the site of the , the scientists reported.

Further studies will examine whether the same events occur in larger mammals and which receptors are responsible for the action of this molecule.

Source: UT Southwestern Medical Center (news : web)

Related Stories

Recommended for you

Bioengineered soft microfibers improve T-cell production

January 18, 2018
T cells play a key role in the body's immune response against pathogens. As a new class of therapeutic approaches, T cells are being harnessed to fight cancer, promising more precise, longer-lasting mitigation than traditional, ...

Weight flux alters molecular profile, study finds

January 17, 2018
The human body undergoes dramatic changes during even short periods of weight gain and loss, according to a study led by researchers at the Stanford University School of Medicine.

Secrets of longevity protein revealed in new study

January 17, 2018
Named after the Greek goddess who spun the thread of life, Klotho proteins play an important role in the regulation of longevity and metabolism. In a recent Yale-led study, researchers revealed the three-dimensional structure ...

The HLF gene protects blood stem cells by maintaining them in a resting state

January 17, 2018
The HLF gene is necessary for maintaining blood stem cells in a resting state, which is crucial for ensuring normal blood production. This has been shown by a new research study from Lund University in Sweden published in ...

Magnetically applied MicroRNAs could one day help relieve constipation

January 17, 2018
Constipation is an underestimated and debilitating medical issue related to the opioid epidemic. As a growing concern, researchers look to new tools to help patients with this side effect of opioid use and aging.

Researchers devise decoy molecule to block pain where it starts

January 16, 2018
For anyone who has accidentally injured themselves, Dr. Zachary Campbell not only sympathizes, he's developing new ways to blunt pain.

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.