Evidence for Cardiomyocyte Renewal in Humans

It has been difficult to establish whether we are limited to the heart muscle cells we are born with or if cardiomyocytes are generated also later in life. We have taken advantage of the integration of 14C, generated by nuclear bomb tests during the Cold War, into DNA to establish the age of cardiomyocytes in humans. We report that cardiomyocytes renew, with a gradual decrease from 1% turning over annually at the age of 20 to 0.3% at the age of 75. Less than 50% of cardiomyocytes are exchanged during a normal lifespan. The capacity to generate cardiomyocytes in the adult human heart suggests that it may be rational to work towards the development of therapeutic strategies aiming to stimulate this process in cardiac pathologies.

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