Integration of concepts: cardiac extracellular matrix remodeling after myocardial infarction

J Card Fail. 2002 Dec;8(6 Suppl):S344-8. doi: 10.1054/jcaf.2002.129261.


The cardiac extracellular matrix consists of a three-dimensional structural network of interstitial collagens to which other matrix components are attached. The main physiological functions of this network are to retain tissue integrity and cardiac pump function. Collagen deposition is controlled and can be modulated by hormonal factors, growth factors, cytokines, regulatory proteins and/or hemodynamic factors. Increased collagen deposition is a prerequisite to prevent dilatation of the infarcted area. Excessive accumulation of collagen leads to ventricular diastolic and systolic dysfunction and ultimately contributes to heart failure. An appropriate balance of extracellular matrix synthesis and degradation is required for normal morphogenesis and maintenance of tissue architecture. A disbalance in the extracellular matrix turnover either by decreased matrix synthesis and/or increased degradation leads to less than normal extracellular matrix in the myocardium which in its turn may lead to cardiac dilatation or even rupture. Extracellular matrix degrading enzymes expressed after myocardial infarction belong to the families of serine and matrix metalloproteinases (MMPs) and are secreted as latent proenzymes that have to be activated. It is crucial to keep the activity of these enzymes under tight control by either influencing the synthesis, activation or inhibition by tissue inhibitors of MMPs (TIMPs) or alpha2-macroglobulin. First studies using MMP inhibitors in experimental models of myocardial infarction seem to give attenuation of ventricular geometry but not always improvement of cardiac function. A central role in the activation of MMPs plays the plasminogen-plasmin system. Invasion of inflammatory cells and hitherto the rest of the wound healing cascade is inhibited in plasminogen or uPA deficient mice, most likely by the inhibition of MMP activity. Regulating the balance of extracellular matrix remodeling either by extracellular matrix synthesis or degradation might be one of the possible prevention mechanisms for heart failure. But also regeneration of the vascular and cardiomyocyte network might be potential new treatments for people with heart failure.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Collagen / physiology
  • Extracellular Matrix / physiology*
  • Humans
  • Matrix Metalloproteinases / physiology*
  • Mice
  • Myocardial Infarction / physiopathology*
  • Protease Inhibitors / pharmacology
  • Tissue Inhibitor of Metalloproteinases / pharmacology
  • Ventricular Remodeling*


  • Protease Inhibitors
  • Tissue Inhibitor of Metalloproteinases
  • Collagen
  • Matrix Metalloproteinases