Cardioimmunology is a field that encompasses the immune cells and pathways that modulate cardiac function in homeostasis and regulate the temporal balance between tissue injury and repair in disease. Over the past two decades, genetic fate mapping and high-dimensional sequencing techniques have defined increasing functional heterogeneity of innate and adaptive immune cell populations in the heart and other organs, revealing a complexity not previously appreciated and challenging established frameworks for the immune system. Given these rapid advances, understanding how to use these tools has become crucial. However, cardiovascular biologists without immunological expertise might not be aware of the strengths and caveats of immune-related tools and how they can be applied to examine the pathogenesis of myocardial diseases. In this Review, we guide readers through case-based examples to demonstrate how tool selection can affect data quality and interpretation and we provide critical analysis of the experimental tools that are currently available, focusing on their use in models of ischaemic heart injury and heart failure. The goal is to increase the use of relevant immunological tools and strategies among cardiovascular researchers to improve the precision, translatability and consistency of future studies of immune cells in cardiac disease.
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