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Nat Rev Mol Cell Biol. 2013 Aug;14(8):529-41. doi: 10.1038/nrm3619. Epub 2013 Jul 10.

Mending broken hearts: cardiac development as a basis for adult heart regeneration and repair.

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Department of Molecular Biology, University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center, Dallas, Texas 75390-9148, USA.


As the adult mammalian heart has limited potential for regeneration and repair, the loss of cardiomyocytes during injury and disease can result in heart failure and death. The cellular processes and regulatory mechanisms involved in heart growth and development can be exploited to repair the injured adult heart through 'reawakening' pathways that are active during embryogenesis. Heart function has been restored in rodents by reprogramming non-myocytes into cardiomyocytes, by expressing transcription factors (GATA4, HAND2, myocyte-specific enhancer factor 2C (MEF2C) and T-box 5 (TBX5)) and microRNAs (miR-1, miR-133, miR-208 and miR-499) that control cardiomyocyte identity. Stimulating cardiomyocyte dedifferentiation and proliferation by activating mitotic signalling pathways involved in embryonic heart growth represents a complementary approach for heart regeneration and repair. Recent advances in understanding the mechanistic basis of heart development offer exciting opportunities for effective therapies for heart failure.

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