Dec 13 2022 Posted: 08:00 GMT

CÚRAM SFI Research Centre for Medical Devices researchers have published a pivotal study on the regeneration of the zebrafish heart, which provides a deeper understanding of the process and the potential identification of new therapies for the treatment of cardiovascular diseases.

This fundamental study results from the fruitful collaboration between prestigious European institutions in Ireland, Italy, and Sweden.

Myocardial infarction (MI) is a common cause of cardiac injury in humans, resulting in irreversible loss of contractility due to the death of cardiomyocytes, the cell responsible for the heart's contraction. MI leads to the formation of fibrotic scar tissue that destabilizes the pump function, leading to congestive heart failure, which lowers the quality of life and can lead to premature death.

Numerous strategies have been explored to enhance cardiomyocyte reproduction, including biomolecular delivery, biomaterial augmentation, and stem cell-based approaches. Still, these approaches do not compensate for the massive loss of cardiomyocytes.

In this new study published by Communications Biology, CÚRAM scientists have dissected the innate zebrafish regenerative ability to reverse cardiac muscle injury.

Researchers Dr Renza Spelat, Dr Federico Ferro, and Dr Paolo Contessotto explain: “Zebrafish heart regeneration is very efficient and relies on the rapid reproduction of pre-existing cardiomyocytes, but in mammals, this capability is limited to the early neonatal stage. This study linked metabolic reprogramming with post-translational structural changes in the cells responsible for the whole regeneration.”

Lead author and Director of CÚRAM Professor Abhay Pandit said: “This is the first structural analysis of the regenerating zebrafish heart at key time points over the remodelling and regenerative process. A greater understanding of the mechanisms associated with this repair potential and regenerative capacity can contribute to discovering novel therapeutic targets for cardiac diseases.”

The authors have dedicated this manuscript in memory of Anthony Sloan, a dedicated and outstanding staff member at CÚRAM who assisted researchers in refining their writing skills and edited several manuscripts over the decades.


Full-text access is available here-

This work was funded by the European Commission funding under the AngioMatTrain 7th Framework Programme [Grant Agreement Number 317304, NMP-2014-646075, PITN-GA-2012-317304] and by the research grant from Science Foundation Ireland (SFI) co-funded under the European Regional Development Fund [Grant Number 13/ RC/2073_P2].



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