Researchers Discovered New Type of Heart Cell

Researchers Discovered New Type of Heart Cell

Glial cells are crucial for the function of the nervous system since they are considered primary support for neurons. Scientists discovered more roles for these cells. A recent study found a new type of glial cells in the heart, called nexus glia, essential for regulating the heart rate and vital for the heart’s function. These cells may clarify the anomalies that occur during intrauterine life and other heart diseases.

The research team based at the University of Notre Dame identified nexus glia in humans, mice, and zebrafish. These cells are found on the outflow tract. That is a part of the heart where many congenital heart defects occur. This area has an impact on the health of the heart. This study suggests that when nexus glia are eliminated from the animal model, the animal’s heart rate increases. When this happens, ventricular tachycardia occurs. Another experiment showed that if a specific gene vital for glia development is removed, the rhythm of the heartbeat will not be regular.

Ventricular tachycardia occurs when the ionic activity in the outflow tract is not balanced. Researchers aim to discover whether the main reason for this is the lack of cardiac nexus glia in this area. It was found that 30% of the congenital heart irregularities are directly connected to malfunction of the outflow tract. Nevertheless, it is not certain whether this mainly happens due to an abnormality of the cardiac nexus glia in the developmental process.

Also, it’s still not clear how these new results from the trials impact human heart diseases. The congenital heart irregularities can be identified in the uterus in pregnant women. However, the potential heart problems that can occur later in life depend on many factors, including a complicated interaction between genetics and life habits.

Although it is too soon to explain the physiological role of these neural cells, this breakthrough may provide a foundation for further research in neurocardiology.

Photo by Robina Weermeijer on Unsplash

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