Mapping stem cells forming coronary blood vessels
Just like any other muscle, the heart also needs a steady flow of blood to keep it fuelled with oxygen and nutrients. This comes from the coronary circulation: special blood vessels that form a dense network spreading deep into the heart muscle. If these vessels get blocked or damaged then the heart muscle can be starved of oxygen and stop working properly, leading to coronary heart disease or a heart attack. The precursors of the coronary blood vessels are laid down by specialised stem cells early in development – a process that’s recreated and mapped out in these images of blood vessel stem cells forming new capillaries in plastic dishes. Coronary heart disease is a major cause of death and illness in many countries around the world, so understanding how these vessels form and work properly is a key step in figuring out how they can be repaired or replumbed.
BPoD stands for Biomedical Picture of the Day. Managed by the MRC London Institute of Medical Sciences the website aims to engage everyone, young and old, in the wonders of biomedicine. Images are kindly provided for inclusion on this website through the generosity of scientists across the globe.
BPoD is also available in Catalan at www.bpod.cat with translations by the University of Valencia.