Fibroblast-myocyte electrotonic coupling: does it occur in native cardiac tissue?

J Mol Cell Cardiol. 2014 May;70(100):37-46. doi: 10.1016/j.yjmcc.2013.12.024. Epub 2014 Jan 8.


Heterocellular electrotonic coupling between cardiac myocytes and non-excitable connective tissue cells has been a long-established and well-researched fact in vitro. Whether or not such coupling exists in vivo has been a matter of considerable debate. This paper reviews the development of experimental insight and conceptual views on this topic, describes evidence in favour of and against the presence of such coupling in native myocardium, and identifies directions for further study needed to resolve the riddle, perhaps less so in terms of principal presence which has been demonstrated, but undoubtedly in terms of extent, regulation, patho-physiological context, and actual relevance of cardiac myocyte-non-myocyte coupling in vivo. This article is part of a Special Issue entitled "Myocyte-Fibroblast Signalling in Myocardium."

Keywords: Connective tissue; Electrophysiology; Fibrosis; Gap junction; Heart; Scar.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Cell Communication / physiology
  • Connexins / metabolism
  • Excitation Contraction Coupling / physiology*
  • Extracellular Matrix / chemistry
  • Extracellular Matrix / metabolism
  • Fibroblasts / cytology*
  • Fibroblasts / metabolism
  • Fibrosis / pathology
  • Fibrosis / physiopathology
  • Gap Junctions / physiology
  • Heart Conduction System / physiology*
  • Heart Conduction System / physiopathology
  • Humans
  • Mechanotransduction, Cellular
  • Membrane Potentials / physiology
  • Myocardial Contraction / physiology
  • Myocardium / cytology*
  • Myocardium / metabolism
  • Myocytes, Cardiac / cytology*
  • Myocytes, Cardiac / metabolism


  • Connexins