As I reported in this week's issue of Inside Stanford Medicine, Scott Metzler, PhD, is a researcher who not only studies the early development of the heart, but also suffers from a serious heart defect called Tetralogy of Fallot. Since hearts are a leitmotif of Metzler's life, it seems appropriate that heart-shaped images, like this one, recently popped up under his microscope.
Metzler has been studying the action of apelin, a protein that seems to offer some protection against heart disease. Metzler observed that when heart muscle cells are exposed to apelin, the protein clusters at one point on the cell and pulls that spot down toward the center of the cell, making that spot pucker. In the microscope, from the side, these cells start to look like little hearts.
Photo courtesy of Scott Metzler