Heart Attack: Researchers Investigate The Tisue Responsible For The Healing Response

First Posted: Feb 09, 2017 05:27 AM EST

A recent study shows weeks following a heart attack. The heart wall that has been injured picks up more collagen fibers that are somewhat less stiff due to lack of fiber crosslinks, as per the research by an expert at the University of Arkansas and his team at Tufts University. The switch to the cardiac tissue may lead to an excessive scar buildup and the worst is heart failure.

The discovery was conducted by a team of researchers including Kyle Quinn who is an assistant professor of biomedical engineering at the U of A, together with the associate professors of the biomedical engineering at Tufts, Irene Georgakoudi and Lauren Black.

The result was published in the journal Nature Publishing Group's Scientific ReportsThe researchers used multiphoton microscopy, which is a powerful imaging technique. They then examined the changes in composition and mechanical properties of the heart wall, weeks following a heart attack.

In a process through tissue decellularization, they examined the fibrous load-bearing microstructure surrounding the cardiac cells. The researchers found that a heart following a heart attack, the newly forming scar tissue was made up of collagen fibers are less naturally fluorescent, was thinner and more aligned compared to the healthy tissue, according to Medical Xpress.

As follows, the fiber properties measured through the multiphoton microscopy were linked with a poor mechanical response in comparison to the healthy cardiac tissue.

Meanwhile, Kyle Quinn said that, "With multiphoton microscopy, we can visualize both collagen fiber organization and crosslinking status. Clearly, after a heart attack, the extra-cellular matrix was less stiff due to the deposition of new collagen fibers that lacked crosslinks."

The capability to predict the mechanical environment of the heart wall through the imaging techniques can aid the researchers to comprehend how scarring after a heart attack can lead to heart failure. Thus, Quinn and the team will continue to work on the quantitative imaging methods to better understand the relationship between the structure and the mechanical foundation of biological tissue.

The goal now is to apply these methods to problems with the wound and skin healing. Quinn added that, "Our skin shares many similar characteristics with the heart in its healing response following an ischemic injury," according to the news by the University of Arkansas. 

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