Macrophage Efferocytosis in Cardiac Pathophysiology and Repair

Shock. 2021 Feb 1;55(2):177-188. doi: 10.1097/SHK.0000000000001625.


As an integral component of cardiac tissue, macrophages are critical for cardiac development, adult heart homeostasis, as well as cardiac healing. One fundamental function of macrophages involves the clearance of dying cells or debris, a process termed efferocytosis. Current literature primarily pays attention to the impact of efferocytosis on apoptotic cells. However, emerging evidence suggests that necrotic cells and their released cellular debris can also be removed by cardiac macrophages through efferocytosis. Importantly, recent studies have demonstrated that macrophage efferocytosis plays an essential role in cardiac pathophysiology and repair. Therefore, understanding macrophage efferocytosis would provide valuable insights on cardiac health, and may offer new therapeutic strategies for the treatment of patients with heart failure. In this review, we first summarize the molecular signals that are associated with macrophage efferocytosis of apoptotic and necrotic cells, and then discuss how the linkage of efferocytosis to the resolution of inflammation affects cardiac function and recovery under normal and diseased conditions. Lastly, we highlight new discoveries related to the effects of macrophage efferocytosis on cardiac injury and repair.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Apoptosis
  • Heart / physiopathology*
  • Humans
  • Macrophages / physiology*
  • Necrosis
  • Phagocytosis*