Mechanisms of Myocardial Growth and Regeneration

The Kühn Lab is exploring the signals that promote cardiomyocyte cell cycle entry and division. Regeneration is an important mechanism of tissue homeostasis in multicellular organisms, and the limited ability of the mammalian heart to regenerate is remarkable. Many mammalian tissues, such as blood and skin, regenerate after injury, relying on undifferentiated stem cells.

Heart tissue, like other tissues with limited regenerative capacity, is largely comprised of terminally differentiated cells. This means that they do not divide. However, some cardiomyocytes can re-enter the cell division cycle under certain conditions. For example, cardiomyocyte cell cycle activity in the region bordering a myocardial infarction increases transiently. Although this increase is not sufficient for effective regeneration, it suggests that some cardiomyocytes may proliferate in response to extracellular signals present in the infarct border zone.

The Kühn Lab is exploring the signals that promote cardiomyocyte cell cycle entry and division with the hope of identifying specific factors that can become leads for new medications