Epicardium-Derived Heart Repair.
Smits AM., Riley PR.
In the last decade, cell replacement therapy has emerged as a potential approach to treat patients suffering from myocardial infarction (MI). The transplantation or local stimulation of progenitor cells with the ability to form new cardiac tissue provides a novel strategy to overcome the massive loss of myocardium after MI. In this regard the epicardium, the outer layer of the heart, is a tractable local progenitor cell population for therapeutic pursuit. The epicardium has a crucial role in formation of the embryonic heart. After activation and migration into the developing myocardium, epicardial cells differentiate into several cardiac cells types. Additionally, the epicardium provides instructive signals for the growth of the myocardium and coronary angiogenesis. In the adult heart, the epicardium is quiescent, but recent evidence suggests that it becomes reactivated upon damage and recapitulates at least part of its embryonic functions. In this review we provide an update on the current knowledge regarding the contribution of epicardial cells to the adult mammalian heart during the injury response.