Essential muscular organ that provides the whole body with oxygen and nutrients, the heart is the first organ to function during embryonic development. Cardiovascular diseases, including acquired and congenital heart defects, are the leading cause of mortality in industrialized countries. Fibroblast Growth Factors (FGFs) are involved in a variety of cellular responses including proliferation, differentiation, and migration. Among the 22 human/mouse FGFs, the secreted FGF10 ligand through the binding of its specific receptors (FGFR1b and FGFR2b) and subsequent activation of downstream signaling is known to play essential role in cardiac development, homeostasis and disease. FGF10 is one of the major marker of the early cardiac progenitor cells and a crucial regulator of differentiated cardiomyocyte proliferation in the developing embryo. Increasing evidence support the hypothesis that a detailed understanding of developmental processes is essential to identify targets for cardiac repair and regeneration. Indeed the activation of resident cardiomyocyte proliferation together with the injection of cardiac progenitors represent the most promising therapeutical strategies for cardiac regenerative medicine. The recent findings showing that FGF10 promotes adult cardiomyocyte cell cycle reentry and directs stem cell differentiation and cell reprogramming toward the cardiogenic lineage provide new insights into therapeutical strategies for cardiac regeneration and repair.
Keywords: FGF10; FGFR1/2; cardiac regeneration; cardiomyocyte; heart development.