A recent study has shown that mice do not possess the necessary stem cells to repair their hearts, and if previous studies are anything to go by, there is a good chance people’s hearts are similar.
If this were a possibility, our bodies would not react the way they do when we experience a heart attack. Instead of using cells called fibroblasts which close the newly formed wound, our body would make an effort to repair the damaged heart using stem cells.
The study behind this is fairly definitive, and there is a good chance that this settles this matter once and for all. If nothing else, this study also gives a lot of insight into what happens to our hearts before, during, and after a heart attack. Initially, scientists believed that stem cells do exist in the heart due to it developing small amounts of heart muscle cells which form during a person’s lifetime. Scientists even created mice that had a fluorescent protein that would allow them to track the development of new cells more efficiently. But mice rarely created new cells. About 11 out of eight million cardiomyocytes were ever able to divide in these mice. Not even heart attacks were able to increase this numbers like researchers predicted they would.
The hearts of mice with heart damage began to fill with immune cells rather than with these newly formed heart muscle cells.
Fortunately, all is not lost as a group of scientists is currently working on the way to stimulate heart cells to produce more of themselves.