The polarization of monocytes into macrophages that possess anti-inflammatory and pro-angiogenic properties could provide a novel therapeutic strategy for patients who are at a high risk for developing heart failure following myocardial infarction (MI). Here in, we describe a novel method of "educating" monocytes into a distinct population of macrophages that exhibit anti-inflammatory and pro-angiogenic features through a 3-day culture on fibronectin-rich cardiac matrix (CX) manufactured using cultured human cardiac fibroblasts. Our data suggest that CX can educate monocytes into a unique macrophage population termed CX educated macrophages (CXMq) that secrete high levels of VEGF and IL-6. In vitro, CXMq also demonstrate the ability to recruit mesenchymal stromal cells (MSC) with known anti-inflammatory properties. Selective inhibition of fibronectin binding to αVβ3 surface integrins on CXMq prevented MSC recruitment. This suggests that insoluble fibronectin within CX is, at least in part, responsible for CXMq conversion.
Keywords: Cardiac fibroblast; Cell-derived matrix; Fibronectin; Integrin; Macrophage; Monocyte.