Research, Technology

The development of the heart in embryos depends on the intestines

Human life, in fact, begins withthe moment when absolutely identical cells begin to divide into different types, that is, they acquire a certain specialization, as a result of which different organs and tissues subsequently develop from them. To study this process, scientists are increasingly using organelles. It is not yet possible to study how organs develop in a whole embryo. But there are already technologies that allow you to artificially recreate any organoid, that is, a microorgan. Usually they do not represent an entire organ, but a certain part, for example, the rudiment of the cerebral cortex, the structural unit of the kidney, etc. But this is enough to investigate the effect of a particular drug on a nascent organ, poisonous substances, etc. Organoids are also used to study the patterns of their development. In the course of one of such studies of the cardiac organoid, employees of the Gladstone Institute discovered an interesting pattern - its development was greatly influenced by the nearby intestinal organelle. And without it, the organoid could not fully develop.

Scientists have found that the intestines can influence the development of the heart of the embryo

How the gut affects the development of the formation of the heart

Gladstone scientists used toits work induced pluripotent human stem cells. They are obtained from ordinary, that is, specialized cells using certain molecular signals. After these cells have lost their specialization, with the help of other molecular signals, they are given one or another new specialization. They are called pluripotent (omnipotent) for the reason that they can be artificially given any purpose. By the way, there is another technology that allows you to take stem cells from clones of embryos. But they are not used for such studies.

Organoids are formed from stem cells that have no purpose in the first place

In their study, the scientists set themselvesthe task of creating from such cells not only the heart muscle, but also other cells that our heart contains, that is, to form a more or less full-fledged organoid. Sorting through the possible variants of molecular signals, they found that the heart develops normally only together with the intestinal cells.

According to the study authors,published in the publication Cell Stem Cell, in the presence of intestinal cells, the organoid acquired a complex structure resembling the real heart of an embryo. What's more, they noted that the organoid had developed something resembling blood vessels to feed the heart.

Also, scientists claim that the microorgan hadmore diverse cells, in comparison with analogs grown alone. Moreover, the proportions of the cells were correct. Among them, the researchers found cells that had electrical properties similar to those of a real developing heart. When the authors of the work created the same organelles, but without intestinal cells, the heart seemed to freeze at an early stage of development. When paired with intestinal cells, the organoid was able to live for a year. According to experts, this is an unusually long period for such structures.

A double organoid that contains the cells of the heart and intestines

“Our research reveals promising newthe perspective of organoid technologies that will help improve our understanding of how developing organs and tissues interact and instruct each other, ”said Gladstone senior researcher Todd McDevitt, Ph.D., senior author of the study.

Why do organelles develop together

As the authors of the work note,not only the heart, but also the intestinal cells. They identified structures that resembled the small intestine. But how did one organoid affect the other? According to the authors of the work, microorganisms exchanged chemical signals with each other.

Todd McDevitt, study lead author

“The connection between developing tissues, perhapshas not yet received such widespread acceptance as it should. We can now potentially explore this fundamental process in a way that we have never thought about before, ”says Todd McDevitt.

As the researchers note, despite the successes,that is, the more natural structure of organelles formed in pairs, they were still very different from those organs that develop in the embryo. However, it should be borne in mind that not two organs develop simultaneously in the embryo, but all. They also have intimate chemical contact with each other. It is quite possible that when not two organelles are formed under laboratory conditions, but all together, as in an embryo, the organelles will also form correctly.

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Scientists plan to continue in the near futurefurther research to improve organelle growing technologies. In particular, they are going to grow other similar organelles with different types of tissues that the heart, kidneys, etc. have. Finally, let me remind you that another group of scientists was able to grow a full-fledged hybrid embryo of a monkey and a person, as we talked about earlier.