Scientists at the University of Oxford have investigated Mexican fish that are able to regenerate their own hearts and find that the gene that makes possibe extraordinary capacity is also present in humans. The results of the new study, published in the journal Cell Reports, provide hope for positive changes in the lives of patients who have suffered a heart attack, the researchers said.
To arrive at this conclusion, a team of scientists – led by Professor Mathilda Mommersteeg – studied two types of Mexican tetra. The Astyanax mexicanus, who lives in the river and it shows beautiful colors, it can heal your own heart, while the second subspecies, which one fill the waters of the cave Pachón and known as & # 39; Tetra blind & # 39;, not only does he lose his color and vision, the characteristics that do not serve him in the darkness of the cave, but he no longer has the capacity to regenerate heart tissue.
In the study, researchers They compared the genetic profiles of two types of tetra fish and identify three areas in their genomes that are relevant to the ability to regenerate damaged heart tissue.
Then, after also comparing the behavior of these genes in the tetra river and after being blinded after heart damage, the scientists found that only the first had two increased gene activity, lrrc10 (also in humans) and caveolin.
Previous research in mice, meanwhile, also showed that lrrc10 is associated with a heart condition called enlarged cardiomyopathy, in which the heart becomes too enlarged and can no longer pump blood properly. The results of subsequent studies show that lrrc10 plays a key role in the contraction and expansion of heart cells.
To confirm that this gene is also involved in regenerating damaged heart tissue, researchers from the new study turned to zebrafish, another species of freshwater which, like tetra fish, also has the ability to regenerate heart tissue. if necessary. Scientists block the expression of the lrrc10 gene in zebrafish, making them unable to effectively repair heart damage.
In the future, the research team hopes to learn more about this tissue recovery capacity mechanism and use that knowledge to people who face problems with these organs, such as heart failure.