Evidence that the heart can regenerate

Undifferentiated host cells can migrate to host donor tissue in transplanted hearts.

SPIS MedWire(

Conventional wisdom states that the heart cannot regenerate because cardiac myocytes — unlike cells in the bone marrow or intestinal epithelium — cannot divide. But, in 3 January New England Journal of Medicine, Federico Quaini and colleagues from New York Medical College, US investigated heart transplants from eight female donor hearts into male recipients (NEJM 2002, 346:5-15). This type of cross-gender transplant provides a unique opportunity to determine whether host cells have migrated by testing for presence of the Y chromosome.

In post-mortem analysis, the atria of the recipient heart and the atria and ventricles of the graft were examined by immunofluorescence to determine whether Y chromosomes were present in the transplanted hearts. They showed that 7-10% of myocytes, coronary arterioles and capillaries in the donor hearts bore Y chromosomes.

Quaini et al. further investigated if host primitive cells had arisen from host myocardial tissue...

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