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Circ Res. 2012 Jun 8;110(12):1628-45. doi: 10.1161/CIRCRESAHA.111.259960.

Endocardial and epicardial epithelial to mesenchymal transitions in heart development and disease.

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  • 1Department of Cardiology, Children's Hospital Boston, 300 Longwood Ave, Boston, MA 02115, USA.


Epithelial to mesenchymal transition (EMT) converts epithelial cells to mobile and developmentally plastic mesenchymal cells. All cells in the heart arise from one or more EMTs. Endocardial and epicardial EMTs produce most of the noncardiomyocyte lineages of the mature heart. Endocardial EMT generates valve progenitor cells and is necessary for formation of the cardiac valves and for complete cardiac septation. Epicardial EMT is required for myocardial growth and coronary vessel formation, and it generates cardiac fibroblasts, vascular smooth muscle cells, a subset of coronary endothelial cells, and possibly a subset of cardiomyocytes. Emerging studies suggest that these developmental mechanisms are redeployed in adult heart valve disease, in cardiac fibrosis, and in myocardial responses to ischemic injury. Redirection and amplification of disease-related EMTs offer potential new therapeutic strategies and approaches for treatment of heart disease. Here, we review the role and molecular regulation of endocardial and epicardial EMT in fetal heart development, and we summarize key literature implicating reactivation of endocardial and epicardial EMT in adult heart disease.

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