[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The downstream consequences of inflammation in the adult mammalian heart are formation of a non-functional scar, pathological remodelling and heart failure. In zebrafish, hydrogen peroxide released from a wound is the initial instructive chemotactic cue for the infiltration of inflammatory cells, however, the identity of a subsequent resolution signal(s), to attenuate chronic inflammation, remains unknown. Here we reveal that thymosin β4-sulfoxide lies downstream of hydrogen peroxide in the wounded fish and triggers depletion of inflammatory macrophages at the injury site. This function is conserved in the mouse and observed after cardiac injury, where it promotes wound healing and reduced scarring. In human T-cell/CD14+ monocyte co-cultures, thymosin β4-sulfoxide inhibits interferon-γ, and increases monocyte dispersal and cell death, likely by stimulating superoxide production. Thus, thymosin β4-sulfoxide is a putative target for therapeutic modulation of the immune response, resolution of fibrosis and cardiac repair.
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Efficient cardiac regeneration postinfarction (MI) requires the replacement of lost cardiomyocytes, formation of new coronary vessels and appropriate modulation of the inflammatory response. However, insight into how to stimulate repair of the human heart is currently limited. Using the embryonic paradigm of regeneration, we demonstrated that the actin-binding peptide thymosin β4 (Tβ4), required for epicardium-derived coronary vasculogenesis, can recapitulate its embryonic role and activate quiescent adult epicardial cells (EPDCs). Once stimulated, EPDCs facilitate neovascularization of the ischemic adult heart and, moreover, contribute bona fide cardiomyocytes. EPDC-derived cardiomyocytes structurally and functionally integrate with resident muscle to regenerate functional myocardium, limiting pathological remodeling, and effecting an improvement in cardiac function. Alongside pro-survival and anti-inflammatory properties, these regenerative roles, via EPDCs, markedly expand the range of therapeutic benefits of Tβ4 to sustain and repair the myocardium after ischemic damage.
Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences 10/2012; 1269(1):92-101. · 4.38 Impact Factor
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: While cardiovascular diseases remain the major worldwide cause of mortality and morbidity, there is an urgent need to tackle the clinical and economic burden of heart failure. Since the mammalian heart is unable to adequately regenerate beyond early postnatal stages, individuals surviving acute myocardial infarction are at risk of heart failure. Understanding the embryonic mechanisms of vasculogenesis and cardiogenesis, as well as the mechanisms retained for regeneration in species such as the zebrafish, will inform on strategies for human myocardial repair. Due to their fundamental role in heart development, epicardium-derived cells (EPDCs) have emerged as a population with potential to restore myocardium and coronary vasculature. The ability to revive ordinarily dormant EPDCs lies in the identification of key molecular cues used in the embryo to orchestrate cardiovascular development. One such stimulatory factor, Thymosin β4 (Tβ4), restores the quiescent adult epicardium to its pluripotent embryonic state. Tβ4 treatment of infarcted hearts induces dramatic EPDC proliferation and formation of a network of perfused, functional vessels to enhance blood flow to the ischaemic myocardium. Moreover, Tβ4 facilitates an epicardial contribution of mature de novo cardiomyocytes, structurally and functionally coupled with resident myocardium, which may contribute towards the functional improvement of Tβ4-treated hearts post-MI.
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Compromised development of blood vessel walls leads to vascular instability that may predispose to aneurysm with risk of rupture and lethal hemorrhage. There is currently a lack of insight into developmental insults that may define the molecular and cellular characteristics of initiating and perpetrating factors in adult aneurismal disease.
To investigate a role for the actin-binding protein thymosin β4 (Tβ4), previously shown to be proangiogenic, in mural cell development and vascular wall stability.
Phenotypic analyses of both global and endothelial-specific loss-of-function Tβ4 mouse models revealed a proportion of Tβ4-null embryos with vascular hemorrhage coincident with a reduction in smooth muscle cell coverage of their developing vessels. Mechanistic studies revealed that extracellular Tβ4 can stimulate differentiation of mesodermal progenitor cells to a mature mural cell phenotype through activation of the transforming growth factor-beta (TGFβ) pathway and that reduced TGFβ signaling correlates with the severity of hemorrhagic phenotype in Tβ4-null vasculature.
Tβ4 is a novel endothelial secreted trophic factor that functions synergistically with TGFβ to regulate mural cell development and vascular wall stability. These findings have important implications for understanding congenital anomalies that may be causative for adult-onset vascular instability.
Circulation Research 06/2012; 111(4):e89-102. · 11.86 Impact Factor
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Across biomedicine, there is a major drive to develop stem cell (SC) treatments for debilitating diseases. Most effective treatments restore an embryonic phenotype to adult SCs. This has led to two emerging paradigms in SC biology: the application of developmental biology studies and the manipulation of the SC niche. Developmental studies can reveal how SCs are orchestrated to build organs, the understanding of which is important in order to instigate tissue repair in the adult. SC niche studies can reveal cues that maintain SC 'stemness' and how SCs may be released from the constraints of the niche to differentiate and repopulate a 'failing' organ. The haematopoietic system provides an exemplar whereby characterisation of the blood lineages during development and the bone marrow niche has resulted in therapeutics now routinely used in the clinic. Ischaemic heart disease is a major cause of morbidity and mortality in humans and the question remains as to whether these principles can be applied to the heart, in order to exploit the potential of adult SCs for use in cardiovascular repair and regeneration.
Journal of Cardiovascular Translational Research 06/2012; 5(5):631-40. · 3.06 Impact Factor
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Nkx2.5 is one of the most widely studied cardiac-specific transcription factors, conserved from flies to man, with multiple essential roles in both the developing and adult heart. Specific dominant mutations in NKX2.5 have been identified in adult congenital heart disease patients presenting with conduction system anomalies and recent genome-wide association studies implicate the NKX2.5 locus, as causative for lethal arrhythmias ("sudden cardiac death") that occur at a frequency in the population of 1 in 1000 per annum worldwide. Haploinsufficiency for Nkx2.5 in the mouse phenocopies human conduction disease pathology yet the phenotypes, described in both mouse and man, are highly pleiotropic, implicit of unknown modifiers and/or factors acting in epistasis with Nkx2.5/NKX2.5.
To identify bone fide upstream genetic modifier(s) of Nkx2.5/NKX2.5 function and to determine epistatic effects relevant to the manifestation of NKX2.5-dependent adult congenital heart disease.
A study of cardiac function in prospero-related homeobox protein 1 (Prox1) heterozygous mice, using pressure-volume loop and micromannometry, revealed rescue of hemodynamic parameters in Nkx2.5(Cre/+); Prox1(loxP/+) animals versus Nkx2.5(Cre/+) controls. Anatomic studies, on a Cx40(EGFP) background, revealed Cre-mediated knock-down of Prox1 restored the anatomy of the atrioventricular node and His-Purkinje network both of which were severely hypoplastic in Nkx2.5(Cre/+) littermates. Steady state surface electrocardiography recordings and high-speed multiphoton imaging, to assess Ca(2+) handling, revealed atrioventricular conduction and excitation-contraction were also normalized by Prox1 haploinsufficiency, as was expression of conduction genes thought to act downstream of Nkx2.5. Chromatin immunoprecipitation on adult hearts, in combination with both gain and loss-of-function reporter assays in vitro, revealed that Prox1 recruits the corepressor HDAC3 to directly repress Nkx2.5 via a proximal upstream enhancer as a mechanism for regulating Nkx2.5 function in adult cardiac conduction.
Here we identify Prox1 as a direct upstream modifier of Nkx2.5 in the maintenance of the adult conduction system and rescue of Nkx2.5 conduction disease phenotypes. This study is the first example of rescue of Nkx2.5 function and establishes a model for ensuring electrophysiological function within the adult heart alongside insight into a novel Prox1-HDAC3-Nkx2.5 signaling pathway for therapeutic targeting in conduction disease.
Circulation Research 05/2012; 111(2):e19-31. · 11.86 Impact Factor
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Clinical interventions leading to improved survival in patients with acute myocardial infarction have, paradoxically, increased the need for cardiac regenerative strategies as more people are living with heart failure. Over the last 10-15 years there have been significant advances in our understanding of cell-based therapy for cardiac repair. Evidence that paracrine stimulation largely underlies the functional benefits in cell transplantation has led to a paradigm shift in regenerative medicine: from cell therapy to factor/protein-based therapy. Although, future regenerative approaches may likely involve a synergistic protein cocktail, this review will focus on the role of a promising candidate, thymosin beta 4 (Tβ4) in cardioprotection, neovascularization, tissue regeneration and inflammation - all essential components in cardiac repair.
Current pharmaceutical design 01/2012; 18(6):799-806. · 4.41 Impact Factor
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The epicardium is a mesothelial cell layer which contributes to the coronary vessels and myocardium and acts as an important source of trophic signals to maintain continued growth and differentiation of the developing heart. The precise lineage potential of the embryonic epicardium has come under recent scrutiny with notable questions around its capacity to give rise to derivative vascular endothelial cells and cardiomyocytes. The importance of the epicardium is not restricted to heart formation. Recent studies in the adult heart have highlighted a paracrine role in modulating injury and have begun to realize its potential as a source of progenitor cells (EPDCs) which may be reactivated toward facilitating neovascularization and myocardial repair after ischemic injury. Thus, the adult epicardium has an embryological origin and emerges as a prime exemplar of the paradigm of activated resident stem cell therapy in regenerative medicine, whereupon a major goal is to restore embryonic plasticity to otherwise dormant adult progenitors and facilitate organ repair. In this review, we will explore current thinking on the origins of the epicardium, its role as a signaling center, lineage heterogeneity, and controversy around epicardial potential within the developing heart. We will extrapolate to the adult injury setting, drawing on key studies in zebrafish and mouse which establish the basis for the adult epicardium as a target for cardiovascular regeneration. Finally, we will consider translation of this potential to the human lineage alongside the prospects for discovery of target cell-based therapeutics.
Current Topics in Developmental Biology 01/2012; 100:233-51. · 6.91 Impact Factor
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The mammalian heart loses its regenerative capacity during early postnatal stages; consequently, individuals surviving myocardial infarction are at risk of heart failure due to excessive fibrosis and maladaptive remodeling. There is an urgent need, therefore, to develop novel therapies for myocardial and coronary vascular regeneration. The epicardium-derived cells present a tractable resident progenitor source with the potential to stimulate neovasculogenesis and contribute de novo cardiomyocytes. The ability to revive ordinarily dormant epicardium-derived cells lies in the identification of key stimulatory factors, such as Tβ4, and elucidation of the molecular cues used in the embryo to orchestrate cardiovascular development. myocardial infarction injury signaling reactivates the adult epicardium; understanding the timing and magnitude of these signals will enlighten strategies for myocardial repair.
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: A significant bottleneck in cardiovascular regenerative medicine is the identification of a viable source of stem/progenitor cells that could contribute new muscle after ischaemic heart disease and acute myocardial infarction. A therapeutic ideal--relative to cell transplantation--would be to stimulate a resident source, thus avoiding the caveats of limited graft survival, restricted homing to the site of injury and host immune rejection. Here we demonstrate in mice that the adult heart contains a resident stem or progenitor cell population, which has the potential to contribute bona fide terminally differentiated cardiomyocytes after myocardial infarction. We reveal a novel genetic label of the activated adult progenitors via re-expression of a key embryonic epicardial gene, Wilm's tumour 1 (Wt1), through priming by thymosin β4, a peptide previously shown to restore vascular potential to adult epicardium-derived progenitor cells with injury. Cumulative evidence indicates an epicardial origin of the progenitor population, and embryonic reprogramming results in the mobilization of this population and concomitant differentiation to give rise to de novo cardiomyocytes. Cell transplantation confirmed a progenitor source and chromosome painting of labelled donor cells revealed transdifferentiation to a myocyte fate in the absence of cell fusion. Derived cardiomyocytes are shown here to structurally and functionally integrate with resident muscle; as such, stimulation of this adult progenitor pool represents a significant step towards resident-cell-based therapy in human ischaemic heart disease.
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: In recent years, various types of stem cells have been characterized and their potential for cardiac regeneration has been investigated. We have previously described the isolation of broadly multipotent cells from amniotic fluid, defined as amniotic fluid stem (AFS) cells. The aim of this study was to investigate the therapeutic potential of human AFS cells (hAFS) in a model of acute myocardial infarction. Wistar rats underwent 30 min of ischemia by ligation of the left anterior descending coronary artery, followed by administration of hAFS cells and 2 h of reperfusion. Infarct size was assessed by 2,3,5-triphenyltetrazolium chloride staining and planimetry. hAFS cells were also analyzed by enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay to detect secretion of putative paracrine factors, such as the actin monomer-binding protein thymosin β4 (Tβ4). The systemic injection of hAFS cells and their conditioned medium (hAFS-CM) was cardioprotective, improving myocardial cell survival and decreasing the infarct size from 53.9%±2.3% (control animals receiving phosphate-buffered saline injection) to 40.0%±3.0% (hAFS cells) and 39.7%±2.5% (hAFS-CM, P<0.01). In addition, hAFS cells were demonstrated to secrete Tβ4, previously shown to be both cardioprotective and proangiogenic. Our results suggest that AFS cells have therapeutic potential in the setting of acute myocardial infarction, which may be mediated through paracrine effectors such as Tβ4. Therefore, AFS cells might represent a novel source for cell therapy and cell transplantation strategies in repair following ischemic heart disease, with a possible paracrine mechanism of action and a potential molecular candidate for acute cardioprotection.
Stem cells and development 05/2011; 20(11):1985-94. · 4.15 Impact Factor
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: An understanding of heart development is critical in any systems biology approach to cardiovascular disease. The interpretation of data generated from high-throughput technologies (such as microarray and proteomics) is also essential to this approach. However, characterizing the role of genes in the processes underlying heart development and cardiovascular disease involves the non-trivial task of data analysis and integration of previous knowledge. The Gene Ontology (GO) Consortium provides structured controlled biological vocabularies that are used to summarize previous functional knowledge for gene products across all species. One aspect of GO describes biological processes, such as development and signaling. In order to support high-throughput cardiovascular research, we have initiated an effort to fully describe heart development in GO; expanding the number of GO terms describing heart development from 12 to over 280. This new ontology describes heart morphogenesis, the differentiation of specific cardiac cell types, and the involvement of signaling pathways in heart development. This work also aligns GO with the current views of the heart development research community and its representation in the literature. This extension of GO allows gene product annotators to comprehensively capture the genetic program leading to the developmental progression of the heart. This will enable users to integrate heart development data across species, resulting in the comprehensive retrieval of information about this subject. The revised GO structure, combined with gene product annotations, should improve the interpretation of data from high-throughput methods in a variety of cardiovascular research areas, including heart development, congenital cardiac disease, and cardiac stem cell research. Additionally, we invite the heart development community to contribute to the expansion of this important dataset for the benefit of future research in this area.
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Stem cell therapy has recently emerged as an innovative strategy over conventional cardiovascular treatments to restore cardiac function in patients affected by ischemic heart disease. Various stem cell populations have been tested and their potential for cardiac repair has been analyzed. Embryonic stem cells retain the greatest differentiation potential, but concerns persist with regard to their immunogenic and teratogenic effects. Although adult somatic stem cells are not tumourigenic and easier to use in an autologous setting, they exist in small numbers and possess reduced differentiation potential. Traditionally the heart was considered to be a post-mitotic organ; however, this dogma has recently been challenged with the identification of a reservoir of resident stem cells, defined as cardiac progenitor cells (CPCs). These endogenous progenitors may represent the best candidates for cardiovascular cell therapy, as they are tissue-specific, often pre-committed to a cardiac fate, and display a greater propensity to differentiate towards cardiovascular lineages. This review will focus on current research into the biology of CPCs and their regenerative potential. This article is part of a special issue entitled, "Cardiovascular Stem Cells Revisited".
Journal of Molecular and Cellular Cardiology 02/2011; 50(2):296-303. · 5.15 Impact Factor
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: As the developing heart grows and the chamber walls thicken, passive diffusion of oxygen and nutrients is replaced by a vascular plexus which remodels and expands to form a mature coronary vascular system. The coronary arteries and veins ensure the continued development of the heart and facilitate cardiac output with progression towards birth. Many aspects of coronary vessel development are surprisingly not well understood and recently there has been much debate surrounding both the developmental origin and tissue contribution of cardiovascular cells alongside the specific signals that determine their fate and function. What is clear is that an understanding of the cellular and molecular cues to vascularize the heart of the embryo has significant implications for adult heart disease and regeneration, as we move towards targeted cell-based therapies for neovascularization and coronary bypass engraftment. This review will focus on the proposed cellular origins for the coronary endothelium with due consideration to the pro-epicardial organ/epicardium, sinus venosus and endocardium as potential sources, and we will explore the outstanding questions and technical limitations with respect to accurate labelling and lineage tracing of the developing coronaries. We will briefly document canonical vascular signalling that induces vessels in the heart alongside a focus on the potential for developmental reprogramming and putative mechanisms underpinning venous vs. arterial cell fate. Finally, we will extrapolate directly from development to address adult maintenance of the coronaries, vascular homeostasis and remodelling in response to pathology, aligned with the potential for revascularizing the injured adult heart.
Cardiovascular research 01/2011; 91(2):260-8. · 5.80 Impact Factor
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Cardiovascular regenerative medicine aims to counter muscle loss post ischaemic disease with the identification of new cellular sources for cardiomyocyte replacement. A number of embryonic and adult cell models have been explored preclinically and in patient trials, but modest outcome, coupled with issues with impaired graft survival and limited/immature (trans-) differentiation alongside host rejection, has left the door open for more therapeutically efficacious sources of myocardial regeneration. Due to its fundamental role in heart development, the epicardium emerges as an obvious candidate. Here, recent findings are reviewed that show adult epicardium-derived cells as a new source of regenerative capacity for heart repair.