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The epicardium plays a key role during cardiac development, homeostasis and repair, and has thus emerged as a potential target in the treatment of cardiovascular disease. However, therapeutically manipulating the epicardium and epicardium-derived cells (EPDCs) requires insights into their developmental origin and the mechanisms driving their activation, recruitment and contribution to both the embryonic and adult injured heart. In recent years, studies of various model systems have provided us with a deeper understanding of the microenvironment in which EPDCs reside and emerge into, of the crosstalk between the multitude of cardiovascular cell types that influence the epicardium, and of the genetic programmes that orchestrate epicardial cell behaviour. Here, we review these discoveries and discuss how technological advances could further enhance our knowledge of epicardium-based repair mechanisms and ultimately influence potential therapeutic outcomes in cardiovascular regenerative medicine.

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Cardiovascular regeneration, Epicardium, Epicardium-derived cells, Heterogeneity, Lineage derivatives, Migration, Recruitment, Animals, Cell Differentiation, Gene Expression Regulation, Developmental, Heart, Humans, Organogenesis, Pericardium, Regeneration