Scientists are leaving no stones unturned in order to find a cure for the heart-related or any other disorders occurring in the human body. Recent discovery is the use of macrophages in helping the heart beat efficiently. “The use of the cells present within the body itself to help regulate specific functions” is the current ongoing trend among the researchers.
Macrophages are the immune cells present in abundance within the body. The PAC-MAN-like ingestion role of the immune cells is one of its well-known functions. The macrophages ingest the microbial intruders or biological wastes and also are known to help maintain the heart beat in rhythm. According to the researchers from the Massachusetts General Hospital, the macrophages which aggregate around the central cardiac cells regulate electrical impulses within the mouse heart which in turn helps the cells conduct electricity. As per the research, the mice lacking these cells showed an irregularity in their heart beat thus proving that the macrophages have an important role to play in the heart beat rate.
Researcher Matthias Nahrendorf from the Massachusetts General Hospital said that macrophages can prove to be a completely new horizon in the electrophysiology sector. This new type of cell tends to change its phenotype as per the environment conditions. Hence, there is a possibility that they may be involved in the conduction during the abnormalities of the heart’s function. The cells are found in high numbers around the inflamed or diseased heart making the researchers thinks “what have these got to do with the cardiac cells?” Thus, a detailed study on the mice and rodents using the heart MRI and electrocardiogram was carried out from, which could conclude that macrophages present at the atrioventricular node pass electrical impulses from the atria to the ventricles helping the heart beat faster.
To prove this concept right Nahrendorf along with David Milan and Patrick Ellinor proved that the cells tend to extend their membrane between the cardiac cells which create pores called gap junctions for letting the electric impulses flow through it and help the heart maintain the contraction and relaxation rhythm. The patch clamp data obtained from the mice showed that the macrophage cells attached to the cardiac cells helped in depolarizing rhythmically. The scientist realized that the cells had no role in insulating but mainly dealt with conduction of electrical impulses.
Speaking of connection, this new discovery can help build a strong connection among immunology and electrophysiology. The macrophages connection with the conduction abnormalities, heart diseases, or connection between both anti-inflammatory drugs and macrophages can help generate a new genre of therapeutics looking at the ingestion nature of the cells.