Injury and Repair

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Mature cardiac muscle cells do not divide under normal conditions

In the past, it was thought that destroyed cardiac muscle cells could not be replaced by new muscle cells. A localized injury to cardiac muscle tissue that results in the death of cells is repaired by the formation of fibrous connective tissue. Consequently, cardiac function is lost at the site of injury. This pattern of injury and repair is seen in nonfatal myocardial infarction (heart attack). However, recent studies of hearts removed from individuals who had received transplants reveal nuclei undergoing mitosis. While the number of dividing nuclei in these hearts is low

(0.1%), it suggests that damaged cells can potentially be replaced. This finding suggests that in the future, a method might be developed that could induce human cardiac muscle to regenerate into healthy tissue.

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