The epicardium is a cellular source with the potential to reconstitute lost cardiovascular tissue following myocardial infarction. Here we show that the adult epicardium contains a population of CD45+ haematopoietic cells (HCs), which are located proximal to coronary vessels and encased by extracellular matrix (ECM). This complex tertiary structure is established during the regenerative window between post-natal days 1 and 7. We show that these HCs proliferate within the first 24 h and are released between days 2 and 7 after myocardial infarction. The ECM subsequently reforms to encapsulate HCs after 21 days. Vav1-tdTomato labelling reveals an integral contribution of CD45+ HCs to the developing epicardium, which is not derived from the proepicardial organ. Transplantation experiments with either whole bone marrow or a Vav1+ subpopulation of cells confirm a contribution of HCs to the intact adult epicardium, which is elevated during the first 24 weeks of adult life but depleted in aged mice.
Animals, Animals, Newborn, Cells, Cultured, Hematopoietic Stem Cells, Leukocyte Common Antigens, Mice, Pericardium