Researchers at the McEwen Centre for Regenerative Medicine at Toronto General Hospital have discovered the 'SOS' distress signal that mobilizes specific heart repair cells from the bone marrow to the injured heart after a heart attack....
While it has long been known that bone marrow cells have the ability to clear the dead tissue after a heart attack, what has not been known until now is the critically important role of bone marrow adult stem cells in repairing a damaged heart, restoring its function and enhancing the growth of new blood vessels.
In the study, mice with defective c-kit bone marrow cells, could not mobilize these cells to race towards the injured site and regenerate the injured heart. Their heart function was dramatically impaired and, 42 days after a heart attack, their hearts dilated to twice the size of the normal mouse heart. However, the heart function of the c-kit defective mice could be restored to normal by restoring the c-kit cells in their bone marrow, confirming the importance of these cells in repairing the heart. This suggests that a similar treatment of an infusion of bone marrow cells after a heart attack may prevent progression of heart failure in patients who survived a heart attack.Hopefully, this research is "real" and isn't another case of the medical community indulging in Cargo Cult Science.
The study may explain why some patients have mild heart attacks and others develop progressive and potentially fatal congestive heart failure. "We know that the number of c-kit positive cells decreases with age and that elderly patients don't recover from heart attacks as well as younger patients. The key for the older patients would be to find new ways to restore this particular subset of cells in their bone marrow," said Dr. Fazel.