Ischemic tolerance and cardiac repair in the spiny mouse (Acomys)

Tim Koopmans, Henriette van Beijnum, Elke F. Roovers, Antonio Tomasso, Divyanshu Malhotra, Jochem Boeter, Olympia E. Psathaki, Danielle Versteeg, Eva van Rooij & Kerstin Bartscherer

Published: December 2021


Ischemic heart disease and by extension myocardial infarction is the primary cause of death worldwide, warranting regenerative therapies to restore heart function. Current models of natural heart regeneration are restricted in that they are not of adult mammalian origin, precluding the study of class-specific traits that have emerged throughout evolution, and reducing translatability of research findings to humans. Here, we present the spiny mouse (Acomys spp.), a murid rodent that exhibits bona fide regeneration of the back skin and ear pinna, as a model to study heart repair. By comparing them to ordinary mice (Mus musculus), we show that the acute injury response in spiny mice is similar, but with an associated tolerance to infarction through superior survivability, improved ventricular conduction, and near-absence of pathological remodeling. Critically, spiny mice display increased vascularization, altered scar organization, and a more immature phenotype of cardiomyocytes, with a corresponding improvement in heart function. These findings present new avenues for mammalian heart research by leveraging unique tissue properties of the spiny mouse.

Full Access Link: npj Regenerative Medicine