Cookies on this website

We use cookies to ensure that we give you the best experience on our website. If you click 'Accept all cookies' we'll assume that you are happy to receive all cookies and you won't see this message again. If you click 'Reject all non-essential cookies' only necessary cookies providing core functionality such as security, network management, and accessibility will be enabled. Click 'Find out more' for information on how to change your cookie settings.

The immune system is fundamental to tissue homeostasis and is the first line of defense following infection, injury or disease. In the damaged heart, large numbers of immune cells are recruited to the site of injury. These cells play an integral part in both repair by scar formation and the initiation of tissue regeneration. They initially assume inflammatory phenotypes, releasing pro-inflammatory cytokines and removing dead and dying tissue, before entering a reparative stage, replacing dead muscle tissue with a non-contractile scar. In this Review, we present an overview of the innate and adaptive immune response to heart injury. We explore the kinetics of immune cell mobilization following cardiac injury and how the different innate and adaptive immune cells interact with one another and with the damaged tissue. We draw on key findings from regenerative models, providing insight into how to support a robust immune response permissible for cardiac regeneration. Finally, we consider how the latest technological developments can offer opportunities for a deeper and unbiased functional understanding of the immune response to heart disease, highlighting the importance of such knowledge as the basis for promoting regeneration following cardiac injury in human patients.

Original publication




Journal article



Publication Date





Cardiac, Immune system, Muscle, Regeneration, Adaptive Immunity, Cicatrix, Heart, Heart Diseases, Heart Injuries, Humans, Immune System