The great plasticity of cardiac fibroblasts allows them to respond quickly to myocardial injury and to contribute to the subsequent cardiac remodeling. Being the most abundant cell type (in numbers) in the heart, and a key participant in the several phases of tissue healing, the cardiac fibroblast is an excellent target for treating cardiac diseases. The development of cardiac fibroblast-specific approaches have, however, been difficult due to the lack of cellular specific markers. The development of genetic lineage tracing tools and Cre-recombinant transgenics has led to a huge acceleration in cardiac fibroblast research. Additionally, the use of novel targeted delivery approaches like nanoparticles and modified adenoviruses, has allowed researchers to define the developmental origin of cardiac fibroblasts, elucidate their differentiation pathways, and functional mechanisms in cardiac injury and disease. In this review, we will first characterize the roles of fibroblasts in the different stages of cardiac repair and then examine novel techniques targeting fibroblasts post-ischemic heart injury.
Keywords: cardiac fibroblast; fibroblast-specific; myocardium; nanoparticles; novel delivery methods.