More About Zebrafish Heart Regeneration
When the zebrafish heart is damaged, the wound site is rapidly sealed with a fibrin clot that stems bleeding within seconds. Following clot formation, the tissue that surrounds the heart muscle—the epicardium—gradually covers the fibrin clot via migration and cell division. Over the next few months, new cardiac muscle is produced and replaces the clot. Growth factors, like FGF1, produced by the new heart tissue, signals the cells of the epicardial layer to migrate into the heart and form new blood vessels, to provide essential blood flow to the regenerating tissue. Over time, the wounded zebrafish heart returns to nearly its original shape, size, and pumping ability.
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Zebrafish Heart Regeneration Background
Although the human heart is virtually unable to regenerate new muscle when severely damaged, our vertebrate cousin the zebrafish can regenerate cardiac muscle to replace a massive section of damaged heart. Scientists want to understand why fish and humans should have such differing regenerative abilities, and especially hope that understanding how the fish heart regenerates will yield clues for improving therapy after human heart attacks. The zebrafish heart does have some structural differences with the human heart, having only two chambers instead of four, and having a more “spongy” composition that may facilitate clotting. If the role of important molecules like FGF1 can be determined in the zebrafish, the same molecules can then be studied in humans, and even explored as therapeutic agents.
To compare the structure and function of various hearts see HHMI’s Vertebrate Circulatorium http://www.hhmi.org/biointeractive/cardiovascular/click.html.
From Lecture Four of the 2006 Holiday Lectures Series "Potent Biology: Stem Cells, Cloning, and Regeneration."
Zebrafish Heart Regeneration Teaching Tips
The animations in this section have a wide variety of classroom applications. Use the tips below to get started but look for more specific teaching tips in the near future. Please tell us how you are using the animations in your classroom by sending e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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The 2006 Holiday Lectures Series "Potent Biology: Stem Cells, Cloning, and Regeneration."
Zebrafish Heart Regeneration Credits
Director: Dennis Liu, Ph.D.
Scientific Direction: Ken Poss, Ph.D.
Scientific Content: Satoshi Amagai, Ph.D.
Animation: Blake Porch