Friday, May 22, 2009

Can Heart Cells Be Replenished?

On the issue of whether a person’s heart cells can be replaced, most cardiologists believed that the cells are not replaceable. The recently released results of a Swedish study might well change their perspectives!

Swedish scientists from the Karolinska Institute showed that some of the human body’s cells are renewed each week while others are never replaced. Their findings, published on April 3, 2009 in the United States journal Science, confirmed that heart cells are replenished throughout life.

According to this group of researchers, the human cells undergo continual and slow replacement. For a 20-year-old person, one percent of the heart cells are renewed every year. However, the rate of renewal gradually declines over the years and it will reach 0.5 percent when this person reaches 75 years old.

People lose heart cells naturally with most of them are actually replaced. Heart can therefore be viewed as a patchwork of cells that have been there from birth and cells that have been formed later in life.

However, in the event of heart attack or heart disease, millions of cells will probably be lost. When such mishaps do occur, the very slow rate of renewal means that most heart cells can never be replaced.

In the study, the researchers used a unique method to determine how old the cells were. During the Cold War, nuclear tests produced a sharp increase in atmospheric concentrations of radioactive carbon-14, which is stored in the body's cells. As its levels have been varied over the past decades, they serve as an indicator of when the cells are formed.

The new findings no doubt can help doctors or health experts to find out new treatment methods to repair damaged heart cells caused by cardiac arrest or heart disease. On the other hand, such discovery would also motivate scientists to conduct further research into methods of stimulating the renewal mechanism.

No comments:

Post a Comment