What if we could cure heart failure with zebrafish?

Despite the advances in medicine, heart failure is still responsible for many deaths worldwide. In humans, the cells heart muscle once deprived of oxygen die and no longer work. Jan Philipp Junker of the Institute for Medical Systems Biology in Berlin, Germany, recently reported having conducted research on zebrafish. He wanted to understand how this species is able to repair wounds in his heart tissue.

A man holding his chest due to a heart attack

These tiny translucent fish are remarkable creatures. They have the ability to complete their missing organs. They can, for example, regenerate the retinal tissue of their eyes. The results of research conducted by Jan Philipp Junker have been published in the scientific journal ScienceAlert.

In this report, he describes the series of events which lead to the heart regeneration in zebrafish.

Zebrafish heart can repair itself after injury

Research by biologist Jan Philipp Junker found that zebrafish can repair up to 20% from his heart. The latter amputated during an injury then grows by a millimeter in a few months. However, in humans, heart cells can’t live again like zebrafish heart cells.

Generally, the heart cells deprived of oxygen die following an attack cardiac. The dead cardiomyocitis then form a kind of permanent and amorphous scar called fibrosis. This fibrosis then takes the place of lost muscle and the heart becomes weaker, leading to heart failure in the individual.

New possible treatments to cure a sick heart?

Repair of heart tissue in zebrafish is possible through the action of fibroblasts, connective tissue cells. In particular, they produce proteins who act like repair signals in the heart of the fish.

This surprising discovery will certainly have more than positive repercussions in regenerative medicine. In particular, it paves the way for new treatments which mimic the phenomenon of cardiac cell regeneration in zebrafish. Nevertheless, it must be recognized that this study remains embryonic and further research is needed to arrive at reliable results.

SOURCE: SCIENCETIMES

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