Heart cells are like people. The older they get the more conservative they become and less likely to embrace change. In fact a week after being born, the vast majority of them have lost their dynamic ability to divide and replicate altogether. From this point on, once cardiac tissue dies, it‘s gone for good. At least this was the accepted wisdom until recently, when scientists discovered that mice heart cells get a second appetite for growth between their 14th and 15th day. Cells that had otherwise given up on the wild proliferating lifestyle of their early days, explode into action; an early onset mid-life crisis of sorts. During this 24-hour period, cell division (indicated by pink dots) increases 36-fold. Identifying how these cells can briefly regain their regenerative abilities may lead to methods for regrowing damaged heart tissue. And prove that you can teach an old dog new tricks.
Written by Jan Piotrowski
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