Friday, November 24, 2023

Neuroimmune Crosstalk Role in Heart Tissue Repair

Researchers at the Max Delbrück Center have discovered that zebrafish regenerate heart tissue using communication signals between their nervous and immune systems. In general, myocardial infarctions happen when blood vessels supply blood and nutrients to the heart, resulting in portions of the afflicted heart tissue dying. Since humans are unable to grow new heart cells to reduce the damage, they instead form scar tissue that weakens the pumping power of the heart overtime. Unfortunately, even stem cell research has been proven to be unsuccessful here.

Interestingly enough, signals between the autonomic nervous system (ANS) and immune system were found to play pivotal roles in scarring cand tissue regeneration. To observe this communication, researchers induced an injury into the hearts and several macrophage receptors of zebrafish larvae. After noticing that ANS adrenergic signals resulted in macrophages multiply and regenerating heart muscle, the research team genetically engineered the fish larvae so that the signal couldn’t enter the macrophage cell. The research study found that interrupting the adrenergic ANS signal deactivated the macrophages and induced heart scarring. In difference, when macrophages are activated by these signals, they communicate with fibroblasts and promote regeneration at the damaged site, creating an environment conducive for the growth development and growth of blood, lymph, and heart vessels.

A rather interesting study, this research’s findings provide an insight into how the regeneration of human heart muscle tissue can be made foreseeable. By better understanding the differences in signaling between zebrafish and humans, biologists can better understand why cardiac tissue does not regenerate, find methods to navigate a path to initiating the regeneration process, and even how to better treat heart attack patients’ conditions.

For more information, the news article has been linked here and the published journal article has been linked here.

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