The epicardium signals the way towards heart regeneration.
Masters M., Riley PR.
From historical studies of developing chick hearts to recent advances in regenerative injury models, the epicardium has arisen as a key player in heart genesis and repair. The epicardium provides paracrine signals to nurture growth of the developing heart from mid-gestation, and epicardium-derived cells act as progenitors of numerous cardiac cell types. Interference with either process is terminal for heart development and embryogenesis. In adulthood, the dormant epicardium reinstates an embryonic gene programme in response to injury. Furthermore, injury-induced epicardial signalling is essential for heart regeneration in zebrafish. Given these critical roles in development, injury response and heart regeneration, the application of epicardial signals following adult heart injury could offer therapeutic strategies for the treatment of ischaemic heart disease and heart failure.