Phenotypic characterization of primary cardiac fibroblasts from patients with HFpEF

PLoS One. 2022 Jan 11;17(1):e0262479. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0262479. eCollection 2022.


Heart failure is a leading cause of hospitalizations and mortality worldwide. Heart failure with a preserved ejection fraction (HFpEF) represents a significant clinical challenge due to the lack of available treatment modalities for patients diagnosed with HFpEF. One symptom of HFpEF is impaired diastolic function that is associated with increases in left ventricular stiffness. Increases in myocardial fibrillar collagen content is one factor contributing to increases in myocardial stiffness. Cardiac fibroblasts are the primary cell type that produce fibrillar collagen in the heart. However, relatively little is known regarding phenotypic changes in cardiac fibroblasts in HFpEF myocardium. In the current study, cardiac fibroblasts were established from left ventricular epicardial biopsies obtained from patients undergoing cardiovascular interventions and divided into three categories: Referent control, hypertension without a heart failure designation (HTN (-) HFpEF), and hypertension with heart failure (HTN (+) HFpEF). Biopsies were evaluated for cardiac myocyte cross-sectional area (CSA) and collagen volume fraction. Primary fibroblast cultures were assessed for differences in proliferation and protein expression of collagen I, Membrane Type 1-Matrix Metalloproteinase (MT1-MMP), and α smooth muscle actin (αSMA). Biopsies from HTN (-) HFpEF and HTN (+) HFpEF exhibited increases in myocyte CSA over referent control although only HTN (+) HFpEF exhibited significant increases in fibrillar collagen content. No significant changes in proliferation or αSMA was detected in HTN (-) HFpEF or HTN (+) HFpEF cultures versus referent control. Significant increases in production of collagen I was detected in HF (-) HFpEF fibroblasts, whereas significant decreases in MT1-MMP levels were measured in HTN (+) HFpEF cells. We conclude that epicardial biopsies provide a viable source for primary fibroblast cultures and that phenotypic differences are demonstrated by HTN (-) HFpEF and HTN (+) HFpEF cells versus referent control.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Biomarkers / metabolism*
  • Case-Control Studies
  • Cell Proliferation
  • Cells, Cultured
  • Female
  • Fibroblasts / metabolism
  • Fibroblasts / pathology*
  • Fibrosis / metabolism
  • Fibrosis / pathology*
  • Heart Failure / metabolism
  • Heart Failure / pathology*
  • Heart Ventricles / metabolism
  • Heart Ventricles / pathology*
  • Humans
  • Hypertension / physiopathology*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Myocardium / metabolism
  • Myocardium / pathology*
  • Prognosis


  • Biomarkers