Cellular reprogramming reversed fibrosis after a heart attack

(ORDO NEWS) — Japanese researchers have reported a possible treatment for cardiac fibrosis, a pathological condition of the heart that often develops after a massive heart attack and leads to heart failure.

Adult heart cells divide extremely reluctantly, which is why the heart muscle recovers only to a limited extent.

As a consequence, if part of this muscle dies off as a result of a massive myocardial infarction , the void is filled with connective tissue that forms a scar.

Such tissue, alas, serves as a poor substitute: due to its hardness, it prevents the remaining heart muscle from pumping blood, which inevitably worsens heart function and leads to arrhythmias, progressive heart failure and possible death.

Not surprisingly, after a massive heart attack, more than half of patients die within the next seven years.

Prior to this, researchers had already shown that cellular reprogramming of cardiac fibroblasts , precursors of scar tissue, into cardiomyocytes, or heart muscle cells, could improve cardiac function immediately after a heart attack.

However, it was unclear whether reprogramming cells could help people whose hearts had already healed.

To find out, researchers from the University of Tsukuba (Japan) created a special line of transgenic mice in which the introduction of tamoxifen led to the high activity of several genes, including Mef2c/Gata4/Tbx5/Hand2 (MGTH), which promote the transformation of cardiac fibroblasts into cardiomyocytes.

The mice were then given a heart attack, and a month later they were given tamoxifen.

The results were indicative: after the administration of the drug, part of the fibroblasts transformed into cardiomyocytes, which improved cardiac function and reduced the area of ​​scar tissue.

It is important to note that the introduction of tamoxifen not only prevented the formation of additional scar tissue, but also reduced the size of the already formed one, that is, reversed the entire process.

Of course, a new way to treat the consequences of a heart attack is still far from clinical trials, but the results clearly demonstrate that cellular reprogramming can significantly improve the condition of a damaged heart.

Perhaps in the future this method will still be used in medicine. Then people who have had a heart attack will have a chance for a normal life without the risk of heart failure.

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