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BioMed Research International
Volume 2015 (2015), Article ID 580406, 8 pages
Review Article

Direct Cardiac Reprogramming: Advances in Cardiac Regeneration

Department of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine, McAllister Heart Institute, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, NC 27599, USA

Received 25 March 2015; Accepted 29 April 2015

Academic Editor: Shinsuke Yuasa

Copyright © 2015 Olivia Chen and Li Qian. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


Heart disease is one of the lead causes of death worldwide. Many forms of heart disease, including myocardial infarction and pressure-loading cardiomyopathies, result in irreversible cardiomyocyte death. Activated fibroblasts respond to cardiac injury by forming scar tissue, but ultimately this response fails to restore cardiac function. Unfortunately, the human heart has little regenerative ability and long-term outcomes following acute coronary events often include chronic and end-stage heart failure. Building upon years of research aimed at restoring functional cardiomyocytes, recent advances have been made in the direct reprogramming of fibroblasts toward a cardiomyocyte cell fate both in vitro and in vivo. Several experiments show functional improvements in mouse models of myocardial infarction following in situ generation of cardiomyocyte-like cells from endogenous fibroblasts. Though many of these studies are in an early stage, this nascent technology holds promise for future applications in regenerative medicine. In this review, we discuss the history, progress, methods, challenges, and future directions of direct cardiac reprogramming.