Study Finds Sympathetic Nervous System Plays Vital Role in Heart Regeneration
A new study from the University of Miami’s Interdisciplinary Stem Cell Institute has found that the sympathetic nervous system plays a vital role in heart regeneration. Prior to this study, scientists were aware of the potential for cardiac regeneration in the human neonatal period, but the factors involved in this process remained unknown. The study, led by Joshua M. Hare, M.D., Director of the Interdisciplinary Stem Cell Institute, is titled “Sympathetic Reinnervation is Required for Mammalian Cardiac Regeneration,” and published October 2015 issue of the journal Circulation Research.
“Adults with chronic ischemic cardiomyopathy undergo inadequate regeneration, which is detrimental for those recovering from heart attacks,” said Hare, the Louis Lemberg Professor of Medicine. “By better understanding what allows the neonatal heart to heal faster than its adult counterpart, we are a step closer to finding medical treatments that will allow for rapid healing post cardiac injury.”
The study was performed on mouse models, shortly after birth. Scientists split the mice into two cohorts and altered a portion of the heart muscle. In the placebo group, sympathetic nerve structures surrounding the heart exhibited robust regrowth into the regenerating muscle tissue. The second group was given a chemical that slowed a portion of the sympathetic nervous pathway. This treatment dramatically inhibited cardiac regeneration.
The findings of this study provide significant insight into a crucial component of cardiac regeneration. Scar tissue and age-related influences hinder regrowth, making it more difficult for patients to recover from heart attacks. This newfound data may provide a window into future treatment opportunities for patients affected by heart disease. Without the ability to recover from a cardiomyopathy, patients live with the risk of repeat heart attacks.