Medical Research Council - London Institute of Medical Sciences

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Hearty Connections

Mapping stem cells forming coronary blood vessels

26 March 2020

Hearty Connections

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.

Written by Kat Arney

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