Focusing Heart Failure Research on Myocardial Fibrosis to Prioritize Translation

J Card Fail. 2020 Oct;26(10):876-884. doi: 10.1016/j.cardfail.2020.05.009. Epub 2020 May 21.


Heart failure (HF) has traditionally been defined by symptoms of fluid accumulation and poor perfusion, but it is now recognized that specific HF classifications hold prognostic and therapeutic relevance. Specifically, HF with reduced ejection fraction is characterized by reduced left ventricular systolic pump function and dilation and HF with preserved ejection fraction is characterized primarily by abnormal left ventricular filling (diastolic failure) with relatively preserved left ventricular systolic function. These forms of HF are distributed equally among patients with HF and likely require distinctly different strategies to mitigate the morbidity, mortality, and medical resource utilization of this disease. In particular, HF is a significant medical issue within the US Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) hospital system and constitutes a major translational research priority for the VA. Because a common underpinning of both HF with reduced ejection fraction and HF with preserved ejection fraction seems to be changes in the structure and function of the myocardial extracellular matrix, a conference was convened sponsored by the VA, entitled, "Targeting Myocardial Fibrosis in Heart Failure" to explore the extracellular matrix as a potential therapeutic target and to propose specific research directions. The conference was conceptually framed around the hypothesis that although HF with reduced ejection fraction and HF with preserved ejection fraction clearly have distinct mechanisms, they may share modifiable pathways and biological mediators in common. Inflammation and extracellular matrix were identified as major converging themes. A summary of our discussion on unmet challenges and possible solutions to move the field forward, as well as recommendations for future research opportunities, are provided.

Keywords: Heart failure; research priorities; translational research.

MeSH terms

  • Diastole
  • Fibrosis
  • Heart Failure* / epidemiology
  • Heart Failure* / therapy
  • Humans
  • Stroke Volume
  • Ventricular Dysfunction, Left*
  • Ventricular Function, Left