Myocardial infarction and ischemic heart disease are among the most common causes of morbidity and mortality in the industrial world. Surgical and percutaneous intravascular approaches are commonly used to treat these diseases. Regrettably, a significant number of patients are either ineligible or demonstrate suboptimal responses to these therapies. In an attempt to provide such patients improved therapeutic options, much effort has been spent developing noninvasive approaches to restore coronary vascular perfusion. One such strategy, termed therapeutic revascularization or angiogenesis, involves administration of proangiogenic factors, which improve coronary perfusion by promoting growth of the coronary vasculature. Thus far, two potential proangiogenic factors have been intensively examined, fibroblast growth factor and vascular endothelial growth factor. Unfortunately, despite their apparent efficacy in animal models, neither factor has performed adequately in the clinic to date. Within the past year a new factor, hedgehog, has been shown to effectively promote the growth of the coronary vasculature and thus has been proposed as a novel candidate for therapeutic revascularization. In this review, we discuss the discovery of the hedgehog pathway as an essential regulator of the development of the coronary vasculature, as an inducer of adult coronary vascular growth, and as a therapeutic in the treatment of ischemic heart disease.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)77-83
Number of pages7
JournalTrends in Cardiovascular Medicine
Issue number3
StatePublished - Apr 2007


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