Heart disease is the leading cause of death in the western world. In the future, it is predicted that heart disease
will kill more people than AIDS and all types of cancers combined. Unfortunately, the adult human heart is incapable of
mounting a significant regenerative response after a myocardial infarction. However, a number of different avenues of research
have arisen aimed at rectifying this situation. With their ability to differentiate into functional cardiomyocytes,
pluripotent stem cells offer great promise for the field of heart regeneration. If the right conditions can be found, it may be
possible to graft these cells into a damaged heart to replace lost cardiomyocytes. More recently endogenous cardiac progenitor
cells have also been identified which could potentially be stimulated into effecting a regenerative response. Lastly,
animal models such as zebrafish and neonatal mice, in which cardiac regeneration occurs naturally via cardiomyocyte proliferation,
could yield clues on how to induce this process in adults. This review will cover recent advances in these different
aspects of heart regeneration with a particular highlight on endogenous regenerative mechanisms and how these could
be used to trigger a similar process in adult mammals.
Keywords: Cardiac progenitor cell, cardiomyocytes, proliferation, regeneration, stem cell.
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