While the human heart has a very limited capacity to regenerate itself, amphibians, such as salamanders, can easily regenerate their heart muscles.
In a study by researchers at the Karolinska Institute, Sweden, they found that the outermost layer of a salamander’s heart, called the epicardium, can act as a source of cardiac muscle cells to regenerate the heart.
This is an important discovery, as similar epicardial cells also exist in the human heart.
"This work establishes a new cellular and molecular paradigm for adult heart muscle regeneration and could offer new hope to millions of patients waiting for a heart transplant," said Professor Ken Chien, co-author of the study.
Heart diseases are the leading cause of death worldwide.