Research Resolves Long-Standing Controversy over Importance of cKit+ Cells in Heart Composition

A new study from the University of Miami’s Interdisciplinary Stem Cell Institute (ISCI) demonstrates the involvement of cKit-expressing progenitors in the formation of cardiomyocytes – heart muscle cells. The findings help resolve a long-standing controversy regarding the role of cKit in the heart.

Joshua M. Hare, M.D., Director of the Interdisciplinary Stem Cell Institute, led the study that used high-resolution genetic fate-mapping approaches with novel mouse lines. ISCI scientists showed that cKit cells identify cardiac neural crest progenitors, which play a major role in heart formation. Previous studies show that these cells remain present in the adult heart.

“The types of cells composing the heart is a highly disputed topic within the scientific community,” said Hare, the Louis Lemberg Professor of Medicine. “These findings will help scientists better understand the heart, allowing them to recognize which stem cells can be most effective in treating cardiovascular disease.”

The high-resolution genetic fate-mapping test conducted in this study is used to identify all descendants of individual cells. This approach is a vital tool for stem cell research as it provides a means of understanding tissue development, disease and cell behavior in individual organisms.

The full study, “cKit+ Cardiac Progenitors of Neural Crest Origin,” is published in the October 2015 Proceedings of the National Academy of Science.

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