Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Human hearts generate new cells after birth; Findings could lead to novel approaches for treating heart failure in children

Date:
January 10, 2013
Source:
Boston Children's Hospital
Summary:
Researchers have found, for the first time, that young humans (infants, children and adolescents) are capable of generating new heart muscle cells. These findings refute the long-held belief that the human heart grows after birth exclusively by enlargement of existing cells, and raise the possibility that scientists could stimulate production of new cells to repair injured hearts.

Researchers at Boston Children's Hospital have found, for the first time that young humans (infants, children and adolescents) are capable of generating new heart muscle cells. These findings refute the long-held belief that the human heart grows after birth exclusively by enlargement of existing cells, and raise the possibility that scientists could stimulate production of new cells to repair injured hearts.

Findings of the study, "Cardiomyocyte proliferation contributes to post-natal heart growth in young humans," were published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, Online Early Edition, the week of Jan 7-Jan 11, 2013. The study was led by Bernhard Kuhn, MD, of the Department of Cardiologyat Boston Children's.

Beginning in 2009, Dr. Kuhn and his team looked at specimens from healthy human hearts, ranging in age from 0 to 59 years. Using several laboratory assays, they documented that cells in these hearts were still dividing after birth, significantly expanding the heart cell population. The cells regenerated at their highest rates during infancy. Regeneration declined after infancy, rose during the adolescent growth spurt, and continued up until around age 20.

The findings offer the strongest evidence to date that proliferation of cardiomyocytes (the cells making up heart muscle) contributes to growth in healthy young human hearts.

"For more than 100 years," Kuhn says, "people have been debating whether human heart muscle cells are generated after birth or whether they simply grow larger." Kuhn points out that research in the 1930s and 1940s suggested that cardiomyocyte division may continue after birth, and recent reports about myocardial regeneration in zebrafish and neonatal mice suggest that some young animals regenerate heart muscle by using mechanisms of muscle cell division. Still, for many years, the accepted belief in the scientific community was that human hearts grow after birth only because cells grow larger.

Kuhn's work challenges the accepted wisdom and offers hope for new treatments for heart failure. Babies and children may be able to increase heart muscle cell proliferation and regenerate damaged parts of their heart muscle. In addition, the study points to new research directions by suggesting that abnormal cardiomyocyte proliferation may be involved in diseases of the heart muscle (cardiomyopathy) that affect young humans, and that cardiomyocyte proliferation could be stimulated in young humans for the treatment of heart failure.

The findings, according to Kuhn, help to create a "cellular blueprint for how the human heart grows after birth." Using this blueprint, treatment strategies could be developed to treat heart failure in children

The study received institutional funding from the Department of Cardiology and the Translational Investigator Program (Boston Children's Hospital) and outside funding from the Children's Cardiomyopathy and Geneen Foundations, the Biomedical Research Exchange Program and the Helmut-Drexler Foundation and the American Heart Association.

Mariya Mollova, MD, and Kevin Bersell were first co-authors on the paper.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Boston Children's Hospital. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. M. Mollova, K. Bersell, S. Walsh, J. Savla, L. T. Das, S.-Y. Park, L. E. Silberstein, C. G. dos Remedios, D. Graham, S. Colan, B. Kuhn. Cardiomyocyte proliferation contributes to heart growth in young humans. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 2013; DOI: 10.1073/pnas.1214608110

Cite This Page:

Boston Children's Hospital. "Human hearts generate new cells after birth; Findings could lead to novel approaches for treating heart failure in children." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 10 January 2013. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/01/130110094800.htm>.
Boston Children's Hospital. (2013, January 10). Human hearts generate new cells after birth; Findings could lead to novel approaches for treating heart failure in children. ScienceDaily. Retrieved September 2, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/01/130110094800.htm
Boston Children's Hospital. "Human hearts generate new cells after birth; Findings could lead to novel approaches for treating heart failure in children." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/01/130110094800.htm (accessed September 2, 2014).

Share This




More Health & Medicine News

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Snack Attack: Study Says Action Movies Make You Snack More

Snack Attack: Study Says Action Movies Make You Snack More

Newsy (Sep. 2, 2014) You're more likely to gain weight while watching action flicks than you are watching other types of programming, says a new study published in JAMA. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
U.N. Says Ebola Travel Restrictions Will Cause Food Shortage

U.N. Says Ebola Travel Restrictions Will Cause Food Shortage

Newsy (Sep. 2, 2014) The U.N. says the problem is two-fold — quarantine zones and travel restrictions are limiting the movement of both people and food. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Doctors Fear They're Losing Battle Against Ebola

Doctors Fear They're Losing Battle Against Ebola

AP (Sep. 2, 2014) As a third American missionary is confirmed to have contracted Ebola in Liberia, doctors on the ground in West Africa fear they're losing the battle against the outbreak. (Sept. 2) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Tech Giants Bet on 3D Headsets for Gaming, Healthcare

Tech Giants Bet on 3D Headsets for Gaming, Healthcare

AFP (Sep. 2, 2014) When Facebook acquired the virtual reality hardware developer Oculus VR in March for $2 billion, CEO Mark Zuckerberg hailed the firm's technology as "a new communication platform." Duration: 02:24 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins