The adult mammalian heart is incapable of regeneration following cardiac injury, leading to a decline in function and eventually heart failure. One of the most evident barriers limiting cardiac regeneration is the inability of cardiomyocytes to divide. It has recently become clear that the mammalian heart undergoes limited cardiomyocyte self-renewal throughout life and is even capable of modest regeneration early after birth. These exciting findings have awakened the goal to promote cardiomyogenesis of the human heart to repair cardiac injury or treat heart failure. We are still far from understanding why adult mammalian cardiomyocytes possess only a limited capacity to proliferate. Identifying the key regulators may help to progress towards such revolutionary therapy. Specific noncoding RNAs control cardiomyocyte division, including well explored microRNAs and more recently emerged long noncoding RNAs. Elucidating their function and molecular mechanisms during cardiomyogenesis is a prerequisite to advance towards therapeutic options for cardiac regeneration. In this review, we present an overview of the molecular basis of cardiac regeneration and describe current evidence implicating microRNAs and long noncoding RNAs in this process. Current limitations and future opportunities regarding how these regulatory mechanisms can be harnessed to study myocardial regeneration will be addressed.
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