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After myocardial infarction, resident fibroblasts (Fb) differentiate towards myofibroblasts (MyoFb), generating the scar tissue and the interstitial fibrosis seen in the adjacent myocardium. Fb and MyoFb have the potential to interact with cardiac myocytes (CMs) but insight into the phenotype-specific role and mode of interaction is still incomplete. Our objectives are to further define the modulation of CMs by MyoFbs compared to Fbs, as well as the role of direct contact through gap junctions vs. soluble mediators, using Fbs and CMs from pig left ventricle. Fbs were treated to maintain an undifferentiated state (SD-208) or to attain full differentiation to MyoFb (TGF-β1). Fbs and MyoFbs were co-cultured with CMs, with the possibility of direct contact or separated by a Thincert membrane. Only in direct co-culture, both Fbs and MyoFbs were able to decrease CM viability after 2 days. Only MyoFbs induced significant distal spreading of CMs in both direct and indirect co-culture. MyoFbs, but not Fbs, readily made connections with CMs in direct co-culture and connexin 43 expression in MyoFb was higher than in Fb. When coupled to CMs, MyoFbs reduced the CM action potential duration and hyperpolarized the CM resting membrane potential. Uncoupling reversed these effects. In conclusion, MyoFbs, but not Fbs, alter the CM structural phenotype. MyoFbs, but not Fbs, are likely to electrically connect to CMs and thereby modulate the CM membrane potential. These data provide further support for an active role of MyoFbs in the arrhythmogenic substrate after cardiac remodelling.


Chandan K Nagaraju, Eef Dries, Guillaume Gilbert, Mouna Abdesselem, Nan Wang, Matthew Amoni, Ronald B Driesen, Karin R Sipido. Myofibroblast modulation of cardiac myocyte structure and function. Scientific reports. 2019 Jun 20;9(1):8879

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PMID: 31222006

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