Image of the Month: cardiac fibroblasts

This Image of the Month features the cardiac fibroblast, a cell that is central to heart failure, the leading cause of mortality in the U.S. After a heart attack, part of the heart muscle dies. Instead of regenerating, injured hearts replace dead tissue with a scar made from fibroblasts. Having too much scarring progressively weakens heart function,  setting the stage for heart failure.

Cardiac fibroblasts. The confocal microscopy images show proliferative mouse cardiac fibroblasts seven days after myocardial infarction. Control hearts (WT, Wild Type) are on the left and hearts genetically modified to lack Hippo pathway kinases Lats1/2 are on the right (Lats1/2 CKO, conditional knockout). Cardiac fibroblasts are shown in green, proliferation marker EdU in white and nuclei in blue. At this stage, cardiac fibroblasts in control hearts reduce proliferation and transition to myofibroblast to participate in extracellular matrix deposition and fibrotic scar formation. In contrast, Lats1/2 mutant fibroblasts maintain proliferation and are unable to deposit sufficient extracellular matrix.This and other evidence indicated that the Hippo pathway is required to restrain cardiac fibrosis. Courtesy of Yang Xiao/Genes & Development/Martin lab.

 

One of the research lines of Dr. James F. Martin’s laboratory is to develop ways to heal heart muscle by studying cellular pathways involved in heart development and regeneration. The image is part of a study that investigated the genetic pathways that are important for maintaining the fibroblasts in their resting state.

Read all about this study in the journal Genes & Development and in From the Labs.

Dr. James Martin

 

 

Dr. James F. Martin is professor and Vivian L. Smith Chair in Regenerative Medicine at Baylor College of Medicine and director of the Cardiomyocyte Renewal Lab at the Texas Heart Institute.

 

 

 

 

By Ana María Rodríguez, Ph.D.

 

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