The dogma that the heart is a static organ which contains an irreplaceable population of cardiomyocytes prevailed in the cardiovascular field for the last several decades. However, the recent identification of progenitor cells that give rise to differentiated myocytes has prompted a re-interpretation of cardiac biology. The heart cannot be viewed any longer as a postmitotic organ characterized by a predetermined number of myocytes that is defined at birth and is preserved throughout life. The myocardium constitutes a dynamic entity in which new young parenchymal cells are formed to substitute old damaged dying myocytes. The regenerative ability of the heart was initially documented with a classic morphometric approach and more recently with the demonstration that DNA synthesis, mitosis, and cytokinesis take place in the newly formed myocytes of the normal and pathologic heart. Importantly, replicating myocytes correspond to the differentiated progeny of cardiac stem cells. These findings point to the possibility of novel therapeutic strategies for the diseased heart.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
- Pharmacology, Toxicology and Pharmaceutics(all)