Cookies on this website
We use cookies to ensure that we give you the best experience on our website. If you click 'Continue' we will assume that you are happy to receive all cookies and you will not see this message again. Click 'Find out more' for information on how to change your cookie settings.

The Mexican tetra fish can repair its heart after damage. Key British Heart Foundation funded research from the Mommersteeg Group, published in Cell Reports and entitled "Heart regeneration in the Mexican cavefish" suggests that a particular gene may hold the key to this inherent ability. If they can lock down exactly how this works, it may be possible to revolutionise how we heal damaged human hearts.

Photo Credit: Colin Beesley

Research into a Mexican cavefish could inspire change in the way human heart failure is treated. This key Mommersteeg Group research has been funded by the British Heart Foundation, and is now published in Cell Reports.

Many members of DPAG will remember Associate Professor Mathilda Mommersteeg giving a talk about her team’s research at the departmental Away Day event on July 3 2018. This publication is an important development with far reaching implications for future heart failure treatments.

Some fish, like the zebrafish, have an amazing ability to repair their hearts after damage. Associate Professor Mommersteeg and her team have now identified a new fish model that can help find out what is so unique in fish that they can repair their hearts.

Astyanax mexicanus is a fish species from Northern Mexico with cave-dwelling and river populations. Millions of years ago, some fish living in rivers, flooded into caves. River levels retreated over time and the fish became trapped in the caves. The fish started to evolve to adapt to cave life, for example, they lost their eyes and pigment.

"We have discovered that, like zebrafish, the river surface fish regenerate their heart, while, cavefish cannot and form a permanent scar, similar to the human injury response after a heart attack. This finding is important as it allows to directly compare a ‘fish-like’ regenerative response with a ‘human-like’ scarring response within the same species. If we can find out what it is that allows fish to regenerate their hearts, we can apply this knowledge to heal the heart of patients after a heart attack." Associate Professor Mommersteeg

Research Assistant, William Stockdale, the first author on the paper, explains how they conducted their research in more detail:

"As part of the paper, we compared the surface fish and cave fish responses after injury, and identified many new genes potentially key to regeneration. We explored the role of one such gene, lrrc10, in zebrafish. Interestingly, deletion of lrrc10 in zebrafish resulted in a cavefish-like response after injury - finding it to be a novel factor required for heart regeneration. Finding these new key genes and exploring their role in heart regeneration, like lrrc10, is important to piecing together the puzzle of natural regeneration."

 

Read the full Cell Reports paper here.

More information, including a handy animation summarising the research, is available on the British Heart Foundation website and The University of Oxford website.

Similar stories

Reducing fat in the diabetic heart could improve recovery from heart attack

New research from the Heather Group has shown that in type 2 diabetes an overload of lipids reduces the heart’s ability to generate energy during a heart attack, decreasing chances of recovery.

The brain’s one-sided teaching signals

A new study by the Lak group reveals a novel facet of dopamine signalling during visual decision making.

Fellowship awarded to Huriye Atilgan to enhance our understanding of value-based decision-making

Congratulations are in order for Postdoctoral Research Scientist Dr Huriye Atilgan who has been awarded a prestigious Sir Henry Wellcome Postdoctoral Fellowship funded by the Wellcome Trust.

The future of stroke treatment

A team of international collaborators including DPAG's Dr Mootaz Salman has been researching a promising new therapeutic for the treatment of strokes and other brain injuries.

New review reveals proof of concept for an anti-obesity immunotherapy

The Domingos lab has published a new opinion piece in Science investigating the implications of a Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center study that lays the foundations for a potential new anti-obesity treatment in the form of targeting adipose tissue-resident macrophages.