In a new paper published in Nature Communications today, members of Associate Professor Ming Lei’s group, have unveiled a remarkable previously unrecognised population of cardiomyocytes named "Dbh+ Catecholaminergic Cardiomyocytes" (Dbh+ Cate-CMs), paving the way for a potentially groundbreaking advancement in the field of neurocardiology
Dr Tianyi Sun and Alexander Grassam-Rowe from Ming Lei group are joint first authors on the paper, prepared in collaboration with colleagues in the UK, China and USA. The newly-recognised population of cells, which express the enzyme dopamine-beta-hydroxylase (Dbh) and so can synthesise norepinephrine, originate from cardiomyocyte lineage, contribute to the development, maturation, and function of the cardiac conduction system (CCS). More importantly, the findings also suggest a close structural relationship between these cells and sympathetic innervation during the formation of the CCS. The physical co-localization of these cells, primarily within the ventricles, strongly implies a dynamic and vital interaction between Dbh+ Cate-CMs and the autonomic nervous innervation, which is already known to be highly abundant in the CCS.
Associate Professor Ming Lei, who led the project, said, “Our finding has important implications given the potential endocrine function of the catecholamine system of these cells. Future studies will allow us to unravel the roles that Dbh+ Cate-CMs play in the intricate homeostatic communication between the heart and the brain, both in states of health and disease. The discovery may also in the long term offer clues for the development of innovative therapies in the realm of neurocardiology”
Find the full paper here: https://www.nature.com/articles/s41467-023-42658-9 (DOI 10.1038/s41467-023-42658-9),
Acknowledgement: the research was supported by the British Heart Foundation, MRC and the National Natural Science Foundation of China. Professor Peter Somogyi FRS FMedSci provided valuable advice for the study.
Image shows: Transmission electron microscopy (TEM) imaging: high electron density vesicles (arrowed) typical of catecholamine-containing chromaffin cells detected in cardiac myocytes