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Can J Physiol Pharmacol. 2012 Aug;90(8):977-87. doi: 10.1139/y2012-031. Epub 2012 Jul 4.

Thyroid hormone and cardiac repair/regeneration: from Prometheus myth to reality?

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Department of Pharmacology, University of Athens, Greece.


Nature's models of repair and (or) regeneration provide substantial evidence that a natural healing process may exist in the heart. The potential for repair and (or) regeneration has been evolutionarily conserved in mammals, and seems to be restricted to the early developmental stages. This window of regeneration is reactivated during the disease state in which fetal gene reprogramming occurs in response to stress. Analogies exist between the damaged and developing heart, indicating that a regulatory network that drives embryonic heart development may control aspects of heart repair and (or) regeneration. In this context, thyroid hormone (TH), which is a critical regulator of the maturation of the myocardium, appears to have a reparative role later in adult life. Changes in TH - thyroid hormone receptor (TR) homeostasis govern the return of the injured myocardium to the fetal phenotype. Accordingly, TH can induce cardiac repair and (or) regeneration by reactivating developmental gene programming. As a proof of concept in humans, TH is found to be an independent determinant of functional recovery and mortality after myocardial infarction. The potential of TH to regenerate and (or) repair the ischemic myocardium is now awaited to be tested in clinical trials.

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