Retinoic acid protects damaged heart muscle
In the UK alone, more than 100,000 hospital admissions are due to heart attacks each year – that’s one every 5 minutes! Whilst 70% of patients survive today, their heart muscle remains damaged. Regenerative medicine, however, could help develop methods to repair damaged tissue by mimicking development. Retinoic acid (RA) is a crucial signalling molecule for heart development but can also play a protective role after myocardial infarction – aka a heart attack. By imitating a heart attack in mice, researchers discovered a striking enrichment of RA signalling (red) around the area subjected to the ‘heart attack’ – shown in the top of the heart pictured – and that many different cell types were responsive to RA (green). Without this essential signalling, the area damaged by a heart attack becomes bigger with increased cell death. RA clearly protects a damaged heart muscle, so could point to new ways to help those with heart disease.
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