Physical activity promotes the regeneration process of the heart muscle -

Regeneration of heart muscle cells through physical activity

It is well known that the heart has only weak self-healing powers and a limited ability to regenerate itself. But a research team now reports that physical activity promotes the regeneration of heart muscle cells. Possibilities for the prevention and treatment of heart disease could eventually arise from the new findings.

Researchers from the University Hospital Heidelberg (UKHD), together with international colleagues, demonstrated a positive effect of physical activity on the formation of new cardiac muscle cells in older hearts in an animal model. The results of the study have been published in the journal "Circulation" (PDF).

regeneration of heart muscle cells

As explained in a UKHD statement, the adult mammalian heart has a very limited ability to regenerate heart muscle cells (cardiomyocytes). With age, this capacity for regeneration decreases and at the same time the risk of cardiovascular disease increases.

Dr Carolin Lerchenmüller, head of the Cardiac Remodeling and Regeneration Task Force at the UKHD Cardiology, Angiology and Pulmonology Clinic, and her team have now found evidence in a mouse model that physical activity in aging mice stimulates the process of heart muscle regeneration.

"In previous work, we have already shown that sustained exercise effectively stimulates cardiomyogenesis in younger mice. Now we have studied the influence of physical activity on the cellular and molecular mechanisms of cardiomyogenesis in mice elderly,” explains Dr. meunier to the larks.

In an eight-week exercise program, researchers gave a group of 20-month-old mice the chance to run on an exercise bike. The scientists then examined the regeneration of heart muscle cells using a combination of imaging, histological and genetic techniques.

The experts compared the results with those of a control group of older, "sedentary" mice, that is to say less physically active. In addition, they performed a comparison with younger animals.

RCAN1.4 gene increasingly activated

The researchers found that the calculated annual rate of newly formed heart muscle cells in the "exercise" group of aged mice was 2.3%. In contrast, no new myocardial cells were found in the sedentary control group.

A previous study with young animals had already shown that mice achieved a calculated annual rate of 7.5% new heart muscle cells through sustained exercise, compared to 1.63% in the corresponding control group.

To better understand the mechanisms of cardiomyogenesis, the research team examined the mice using molecular analysis methods. Scientists have found similarities, but also differences, between young and old hearts.

They particularly noticed the RCAN1.4 gene. It was increasingly activated by the exercise program in older animals.

"Further investigations should now show whether the results can be used to infer possibilities for the prevention and treatment of heart disease in humans," says Dr. Meunier to the Alouettes. (ad)

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This text corresponds to the specifications of the specialized medical literature, medical guidelines and current studies and has been verified by health professionals.


Universitätsklinikum Heidelberg: Physical activity promotes regeneration of aged heart muscle cells, (accessed: August 10, 2022), Universitätsklinikum HeidelbergLerchenmüller C, Vujic A, Mittag S, et al. : Restoration of Cardiomyogenesis in Aged Mouse Hearts by Voluntary Exercise; in: Diffusion (PDF), (published: 2022-08-02), Diffusion

Important note:
This article contains general advice only and should not be used for self-diagnosis or treatment. It cannot substitute a visit to the doctor.