Prospects for improving neovascularization of the ischemic heart: Lessons from development.
Neovascularization of the ischemic myocardium postinfarction is necessary to restore blood flow to vulnerable cardiomyocytes and will be indispensable for prospective regenerative strategies, to perfuse newly formed myocardium. Therapeutic attempts to enhance new vessel formation have, to date, yielded modest clinical benefits, and innovative approaches are now needed. Intrinsic mechanisms are initiated by the heart in an attempt to rebuild injured vessels, but these are poorly understood. Insight into the underlying mechanisms may reveal targets for therapeutically augmenting this low-level neovascular response. Starting from a limited number of descriptive studies, this review summarizes what is known of coronary neovascularization and explores putative mechanisms and cellular sources which may endogenously contribute, or that may be pharmacologically triggered, to support vasculo- or angiogenesis. As injury responses in the adult frequently recapitulate embryological processes, a particular focus is placed on the developmental mechanisms of coronary vessel formation. An understanding of the cellular sources and the regulatory pathways used by the embryo may reveal novel targets for reactivating coronary vessel and myocardial regeneration.