The formation of new blood vessels after myocardial infarction (MI) is essential for the survival of existing and regenerated cardiac tissue. However, the extent of endogenous revascularization after MI is insufficient, and MI can often result in ventricular remodelling, progression to heart failure and premature death. The neutral results of numerous clinical trials that have evaluated the efficacy of angiogenic therapy to revascularize the infarcted heart reflect our poor understanding of the processes required to form a functional coronary vasculature. In this Review, we describe the latest advances in our understanding of the processes involved in coronary vessel formation, with mechanistic insights taken from developmental studies. Coronary vessels originate from multiple cellular sources during development and form through a number of distinct and carefully orchestrated processes. The ectopic reactivation of developmental programmes has been proposed as a new paradigm for regenerative medicine, therefore, a complete understanding of these processes is crucial. Furthermore, knowledge of how these processes differ between the embryonic and adult heart, and how they might be more closely recapitulated after injury are critical for our understanding of regenerative biology, and might facilitate the identification of tractable molecular targets to therapeutically promote neovascularization and regeneration of the infarcted heart.
Nat Rev Cardiol
790 - 806