Following a heart attack, blood vessel growth is important for the repair and survival of damaged heart tissue. However, the injured adult heart has limited capacity for blood vessel growth and current medical strategies aim to reactivate pathways that promote vessel growth during heart development. In a paper published in Nature Communications by Sophie Payne and colleagues from Sarah De Val’s and Nicola Smart’s groups, the role of these poorly understood pathways in the adult heart are investigated. The researchers describe three developmental pathways that promote blood vessel growth during development but found that none of these are active after a heart attack. Interestingly, one of these pathways is active in the healthy adult heart but is repressed following injury. Reactivation of this pathway is therefore a potential new strategy to encourage blood vessel growth in injured adult hearts.
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