Can macrophages heal a broken heart?

Medical technician examining bloodThe researchers from Washington University School of Medicine in Sant Louis discovered a subpopulation of macrophages located in human heart that appears to play an important role in the heart’s response to injury. The results of their investigation were published by the “Immunity” in the January 2014. This discovery may contribute a significant improvement in a treatment of chronic heart diseases.

Macrophages are the population of connective tissue cells that are involved in development and regulation of the immune response. Their main function is a defense of human body against pathogens and other antigens. Macrophages play an important role in inflammatory process (especially chronic) as so-called phagocytic cells. Although, phagocytosis has been described by Russian scientist and Nobel Prize winner Ilya Mechnikov more than 100 years ago, the certain role of tissue macrophages in pathogenesis of many diseases remains unclear. It is known that the immune system is involved in reactions occurring as a response to heart injury. However, the distinction of factors supporting heart muscle tissue regeneration from damaging ones is difficult due to still inconsistent data.

Macrophages have long been thought of as a single type of cell. Recently, the scientists from Washington University School of Medicine in Sant Louis discovered two subpopulations of heart macrophages which display opposite functions. While the first group seems to promote healing, the second one is rather involved in the development of local inflammatory reaction, which impairs tissue regeneration and long-term heart function. The research conducted on mice by Svan Epelman MD PhD et al. describes the existence in the heat the subpopulation of macrophages that originated from yolk sac in the early embryo stages. The authors suggested that these macrophages can have the protective abilities. Dr Epelman explained, that these cells support the development of an embryo by accelerating growth, angiogenesis, as well as removal of dead or damaged cells.

The research reported that in healthy hearts of mice there were both, embryonic macrophages which prevalence and those derived from peripherial blood. In the conditions of excessive organ workload (for example during hypertension) the increased migration of peripherial blood macrophages was observed. According to Dr Epelman this supopulation of the immune cells is responsible for initiating an inflammatory reaction. He assumed that blocking the migration of this macrophags to the area of damaged heart muscle as well as stimulation the proliferation of embryonic once could reduce further tissue injury and promote healing.

Investigation the process that accompany the cardiac stress regarding interactions between immune system cells, their control and modulation can significantly improve treatment of chronic heart problems. Despite the research conducted by the scientists from Washington University School of Medicine in Sant Louis is still in the early stages, their results are very promising.

Written by: Agnieszka Szymczyk, Justyna Markowicz, Tomasz Roman

Source:
1. https://news.wustl.edu/news/Pages/26362.aspx
2. Epelman S, Lavine KJ, Beaudin AE et all. Embryonic and adult-derived resident cardiac macrophages are maintained through distinct mechanisms at steady state and during inflammation. Immunity. Jan. 16, 2014.
3. Azzawi M, Hasleton PS, Kan SW et all. Distribution of myocardial macrophages in the normal human heart. J. Anat, 1997; 191: 417-423.
4. Nazimek K, Bryniarski K. Aktywność biologiczna makrofagów w zdrowiu i chorobie. Postepy Hig Med Dosw, 2012; 66: 507-520.

Would You like to know more? Watch on MEDtube.net: Heart attack

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