Fibrosis in heart disease: understanding the role of transforming growth factor-beta in cardiomyopathy, valvular disease and arrhythmia

Immunology. 2006 May;118(1):10-24. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-2567.2006.02336.x.


The importance of fibrosis in organ pathology and dysfunction appears to be increasingly relevant to a variety of distinct diseases. In particular, a number of different cardiac pathologies seem to be caused by a common fibrotic process. Within the heart, this fibrosis is thought to be partially mediated by transforming growth factor-beta1 (TGF-beta1), a potent stimulator of collagen-producing cardiac fibroblasts. Previously, TGF-beta1 had been implicated solely as a modulator of the myocardial remodelling seen after infarction. However, recent studies indicate that dilated, ischaemic and hypertrophic cardiomyopathies are all associated with raised levels of TGF-beta1. In fact, the pathogenic effects of TGF-beta1 have now been suggested to play a major role in valvular disease and arrhythmia, particularly atrial fibrillation. Thus far, medical therapy targeting TGF-beta1 has shown promise in a multitude of heart diseases. These therapies provide great hope, not only for treatment of symptoms but also for prevention of cardiac pathology as well. As is stated in the introduction, most reviews have focused on the effects of cytokines in remodelling after myocardial infarction. This article attempts to underline the significance of TGF-beta1 not only in the post-ischaemic setting, but also in dilated and hypertrophic cardiomyopathies, valvular diseases and arrhythmias (focusing on atrial fibrillation). It also aims to show that TGF-beta1 is an appropriate target for therapy in a variety of cardiovascular diseases.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Arrhythmias, Cardiac / physiopathology
  • Cardiomyopathies / physiopathology
  • Fibrosis
  • Heart Diseases / physiopathology*
  • Heart Diseases / therapy
  • Heart Valve Diseases / physiopathology
  • Humans
  • Matrix Metalloproteinases / metabolism
  • Myocardium / pathology*
  • Transforming Growth Factor beta / antagonists & inhibitors
  • Transforming Growth Factor beta / physiology*
  • Transforming Growth Factor beta1


  • TGFB1 protein, human
  • Transforming Growth Factor beta
  • Transforming Growth Factor beta1
  • Matrix Metalloproteinases