Cardiac Macrophages and Their Role in Ischaemic Heart Disease

Cardiovasc Res. 2014 May 1;102(2):240-8. doi: 10.1093/cvr/cvu025. Epub 2014 Feb 5.


Cardiac macrophages are abundant in the healthy heart and after myocardial infarction (MI). Different macrophage phenotypes likely promote myocardial health vs. disease. Infarct macrophages are inflammatory and derive from circulating monocytes produced by the haematopoietic system. These cells are centrally involved in inflammatory tissue remodelling, resolution of inflammation during post-MI healing, and left ventricular remodelling. Presumably, macrophages interact with myocytes, endothelial cells, and fibroblasts. Although macrophages are primarily recruited to the ischaemic myocardium, the remote non-ischaemic myocardium macrophage population changes dynamically after MI. Macrophages' known roles in defending the steady state and their pathological actions in other disease contexts provide a road map for exploring cardiac macrophages and their phenotypes, functions, and therapeutic potential. In our review, we summarize recent insights into the role of cardiac macrophages, focus on their actions after ischaemia, and highlight emerging research topics.

Keywords: Bone marrow; Heart failure; Macrophage; Myocardial infarction; Spleen.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Bone Marrow / metabolism
  • Bone Marrow / pathology
  • Humans
  • Inflammation / metabolism
  • Inflammation / pathology
  • Macrophages / metabolism
  • Macrophages / pathology*
  • Myocardial Infarction / metabolism
  • Myocardial Infarction / pathology*
  • Myocardial Ischemia / metabolism
  • Myocardial Ischemia / pathology*