Medical Research Council - London Institute of Medical Sciences

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Hearty Diversity

Diversity of heart cells revealed – nine major cell types and many subtypes

02 July 2020

Hearty Diversity

Each of the organs in the body is important in its own way, but the muscular pump of the heart is absolutely essential, squeezing more than 6,000 litres of rich, red blood around your body every day. Now put your hand on your heart and tell me how many types of cells you think are in there: one? Two? Five? In fact, a new study looking at nearly 300,000 individual cells from seven healthy hearts showed that each one is made from nine major types of cells – like these muscle cells (green) and supporting fibroblasts (yellow) – and more than 20 distinct subtypes of cells. Some of these specific cell types are implicated in various forms of heart disease, so understanding more about the identity of all these individual cell types and how they behave in sickness and in health could lead to new ideas for lifesaving drugs in the future.

Written by Kat Arney

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