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The most striking consequence of a heart attack is the loss of billions of heart muscle cells, alongside damage to the associated vasculature. The lost cardiovascular tissue is replaced by scar formation, which is non-functional and results in pathological remodelling of the heart and ultimately heart failure. It is, therefore, unsurprising that the heart regeneration field has centred efforts to generate new muscle and blood vessels through targeting cardiomyocyte proliferation and angiogenesis following injury. However, combined insights from embryological studies and regenerative models, alongside the adoption of -omics technology, highlight the extensive heterogeneity of cell types within the forming or re-forming heart and the significant crosstalk arising from non-muscle and non-vessel cell types. In this review, we focus on the roles of fibroblasts, immune cells, conduction system and nervous system cell populations during heart development and we consider the latest evidence supporting a function for these diverse lineages in contributing to regeneration following heart injury. We suggest that the emerging picture of neurologically, immunologically and electrically coupled cell function calls for a wider-ranging combinatorial approach to heart regeneration.

Original publication




Journal article


Cardiovasc Res

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