Investigating the Transient Regenerative Potential of Cardiac Muscle Using a Neonatal Pig Partial Apical Resection Model

Katherine M. Copeland, Bryn L. Brazile, J. Ryan Butler, Jim Cooley, Erin Brinkman-Ferguson, Andrew Claude, Sallie Lin, Sammira Rais-Rohani, Bradley Welch, Sara R. McMahan, Kytai T. Nguyen, Yi Hong, Sharan Ramaswamy, Zhi Ping Liu, Pietro Bajona, Matthias Peltz, Jun Liao

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


Researchers have shown that adult zebrafish have the potential to regenerate 20% of the ventricular muscle within two months of apex resection, and neonatal mice have the capacity to regenerate their heart after apex resection up until day 7 after birth. The goal of this study was to determine if large mammals (porcine heart model) have the capability to fully regenerate a resected portion of the left ventricular apex during the neonatal stage, and if so, how long the regenerative potential persists. A total of 36 piglets were divided into the following groups: 0-day control and surgical groups and seven-day control and surgical groups. For the apex removal groups, each piglet was subjected to a partial wall thickness resection (~30% of the ventricular wall thickness). Heart muscle function was assessed via transthoracic echocardiograms; the seven-day surgery group experienced a decrease in ejection fraction and fractional shortening. Upon gross necropsy, for piglets euthanized four weeks post-surgery, all 0-day-old hearts showed no signs of scarring or any indication of the induced injury. Histological analysis confirmed that piglets in the 0-day surgery group exhibited various degrees of regeneration, with half of the piglets showing full regeneration and the other half showing partial regeneration. However, each piglet in the seven-day surgery group demonstrated epicardial fibrosis along with moderate to severe dissecting interstitial fibrosis, which was accompanied by an abundant collagenous extracellular matrix as the result of a scar formation in the resection site. Histology of one 0-day apex resection piglet (briefly lain on and accidentally killed by the mother sow three days post-surgery) revealed dense, proliferative mesenchymal cells bordering the fibrin and hemorrhage zone and differentiating toward immature cardiomyocytes. We further examined the heart explants at 5-days post-surgery (5D PO) and 1-week post-surgery (1W PO) to assess the repair progression. For the 0-day surgery piglets euthanized at 5D PO and 1W PO, half had abundant proliferating mesenchymal cells, suggesting active regeneration, while the other half showed increased extracellular collagen. The seven-day surgery piglets euthanized at 5D PO, and 1W PO showed evidence of greatly increased extracellular collagen, while some piglets had proliferating mesenchymal cells, suggesting a regenerative effort is ongoing while scar formation seems to predominate. In short, our qualitative findings suggest that the piglets lose the full myocardial regenerative potential by 7 days after birth, but greatly preserve the regenerative potential within 1 day post-partum.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number401
Issue number8
StatePublished - Aug 2022


  • cardiac fibrosis
  • cardiomyocytes
  • neonatal pig heart
  • partial apex resection
  • proliferative mesenchymal cells
  • transient cardiac regeneration

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Bioengineering


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