Macrophages in myocardial infarction

Am J Physiol Cell Physiol. 2022 Oct 1;323(4):C1304-C1324. doi: 10.1152/ajpcell.00230.2022. Epub 2022 Sep 12.


The heart contains a population of resident macrophages that markedly expands following injury through recruitment of monocytes and through proliferation of macrophages. In myocardial infarction, macrophages have been implicated in both injurious and reparative responses. In coronary atherosclerotic lesions, macrophages have been implicated in disease progression and in the pathogenesis of plaque rupture. Following myocardial infarction, resident macrophages contribute to initiation and regulation of the inflammatory response. Phagocytosis and efferocytosis are major functions of macrophages during the inflammatory phase of infarct healing, and mediate phenotypic changes, leading to acquisition of an anti-inflammatory macrophage phenotype. Infarct macrophages respond to changes in the cytokine content and extracellular matrix composition of their environment and secrete fibrogenic and angiogenic mediators, playing a central role in repair of the infarcted heart. Macrophages may also play a role in scar maturation and may contribute to chronic adverse remodeling of noninfarcted segments. Single cell studies have revealed a remarkable heterogeneity of macrophage populations in infarcted hearts; however, the relations between transcriptomic profiles and functional properties remain poorly defined. This review manuscript discusses the fate, mechanisms of expansion and activation, and role of macrophages in the infarcted heart. Considering their critical role in injury, repair, and remodeling, macrophages are important, but challenging, targets for therapeutic interventions in myocardial infarction.

Keywords: cytokine; fibrosis; inflammation; macrophage; myocardial infarction.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Cytokines
  • Humans
  • Macrophages / pathology
  • Monocytes / pathology
  • Myocardial Infarction* / pathology
  • Phagocytosis


  • Cytokines