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Surg Clin North Am. 2004 Feb;84(1):161-77.

Myocyte growth in the failing heart.

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  • 1New York Medical College, Valhalla, NY 10595, USA.


Adult ventricular myocytes can undergo mitotic division, resulting in an increase in the aggregate number of cells in the heart. The improvement in the methodological approach to the analysis of tissue sections by immunostaining and confocal microscopy has defeated the dogma that myocyte regeneration cannot occur in the adult heart. Most importantly, primitive and progenitor cells have been identified in the human heart. These cells express telomerase and have the capability of undergoing lineage commitment and rapid cell division, expanding significantly the contracting ventricular myocardium. These cell populations possess all the molecular components regulating the entry and progression through the cell cycle, karyokinesis, and cytokinesis. The recognition that myocyte hypertrophy and regeneration, as well as myocyte necrosis and apoptosis, occur in cardiac diseases has contributed to enhancing our understanding of the plasticity of the human heart.

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