Background: Although efforts continue to find new therapies to regenerate infarcted heart tissue, knowledge of the cellular and molecular mechanisms involved remains poor.
Objectives: This study sought to identify the origin of cardiac fibroblasts (CFs) in the infarcted heart to better understand the pathophysiology of ventricular remodeling following myocardial infarction (MI).
Methods: Permanent genetic tracing of epicardium-derived cell (EPDC) and bone marrow-derived blood cell (BMC) lineages was established using Cre/LoxP technology. In vivo gene and protein expression studies, as well as in vitro cell culture assays, were developed to characterize EPDC and BMC interaction and properties.
Results: EPDCs, which colonize the cardiac interstitium during embryogenesis, massively differentiate into CFs after MI. This response is disease-specific, because angiotensin II-induced pressure overload does not trigger significant EPDC fibroblastic differentiation. The expansion of epicardial-derived CFs follows BMC infiltration into the infarct site; the number of EPDCs equals that of BMCs 1 week post-infarction. BMC-EPDC interaction leads to cell polarization, packing, massive collagen deposition, and scar formation. Moreover, epicardium-derived CFs display stromal properties with respect to BMCs, contributing to the sustained recruitment of circulating cells to the damaged zone and the cardiac persistence of hematopoietic progenitors/stem cells after MI.
Conclusions: EPDCs, but not BMCs, are the main origin of CFs in the ischemic heart. Adult resident EPDC contribution to the CF compartment is time- and disease-dependent. Our findings are relevant to the understanding of post-MI ventricular remodeling and may contribute to the development of new therapies to treat this disease.
Keywords: cardiomyocyte; cell therapy; fibrosis; hematopoietic progenitor; ischemia.
Copyright © 2015 American College of Cardiology Foundation. Published by Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.