COLUMBUS, Ohio -- Damage from heart attacks may be partially reversible in the future, with recent discoveries being made at Ohio State University.
Scientists here are seeking new methods for patients to grow blood vessels in the heart to replace the ones they've lost in a heart attack.
Nicanor I. Moldovan, assistant professor at Ohio State's new Heart and Lung Research Institute and Biomedical Engineering Center, said he and his colleagues' most recent work is a step forward to reach that goal. The scientists reported their initial progress in a recent issue of the journal Circulation Research.
Moldovan explained that during a heart attack, blockage in coronary arteries leaves a portion of the victim's heart tissue without oxygen, a condition called ischemia. When this happens, part of the heart tissue begins to die -- an event signaled by severe chest pain.
In his early work, Moldovan discovered that in a mouse model of cardiac ischemia, blood-derived cells called monocytes penetrate this damaged heart tissue, leaving behind a network of tunnels in the tissue.
Monocytes, the largest blood cells, normally circulate through the body to capture and ingest infectious agents such as bacteria. Monocytes also penetrate enflamed body tissue to help defend against infections.