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To develop therapeutic strategies for the regeneration of lost heart muscle after myocardial infarction (MI), a source of functional new muscle cells and associated coronary vessels must be identified. The epicardium is a source of several cardiovascular cell types during heart development and is widely regarded as a resident progenitor population, which becomes dormant during adulthood. In adult mice, MI induces epicardial reactivation characterized by an upregulation of fetal genes and subsequent epicardium derived cell (EPDC) proliferation, migration, and differentiation. Determining whether the epicardium can be therapeutically targeted following cardiovascular disease requires an in vitro system for the study of adult human EPDCs (hEPDCs). This protocol describes techniques to establish and maintain human epicardium explant cultures from patient-derived right atrial appendage biopsies and documents methods to probe the resultant outgrowth of hEPDCs. The model facilitates a high-throughput approach to either genetic or chemical phenotypic screening for drug-like modifiers of hEPDC activation and potential cell fate.

Original publication




Journal article


Curr Protoc Stem Cell Biol

Publication Date





2C.5.1 - 2C.5.12


epicardium, hEPDCs, heart, human, regeneration, Animals, Cell Adhesion, Cell Culture Techniques, Cell Differentiation, Cell Movement, Cell Proliferation, Epithelial-Mesenchymal Transition, Heart Atria, Humans, Mice, Myocardial Infarction, Myocardium, Myocytes, Cardiac, Pericardium, Phenotype, Stem Cells, Transforming Growth Factor beta