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Cardiovasc Res. 2017 Oct 1;113(12):1453-1464. doi: 10.1093/cvr/cvx146.

Fibroblasts and the extracellular matrix in right ventricular disease.

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Department of Medicine (Cardiology), The Wilf Family Cardiovascular Research Institute, Albert Einstein College of Medicine, 1300 Morris Park Avenue, Forchheimer G46B Bronx, 10461 NY, USA.


Right ventricular failure predicts adverse outcome in patients with pulmonary hypertension (PH), and in subjects with left ventricular heart failure and is associated with interstitial fibrosis. This review manuscript discusses the cellular effectors and molecular mechanisms implicated in right ventricular fibrosis. The right ventricular interstitium contains vascular cells, fibroblasts, and immune cells, enmeshed in a collagen-based matrix. Right ventricular pressure overload in PH is associated with the expansion of the fibroblast population, myofibroblast activation, and secretion of extracellular matrix proteins. Mechanosensitive transduction of adrenergic signalling and stimulation of the renin-angiotensin-aldosterone cascade trigger the activation of right ventricular fibroblasts. Inflammatory cytokines and chemokines may contribute to expansion and activation of macrophages that may serve as a source of fibrogenic growth factors, such as transforming growth factor (TGF)-β. Endothelin-1, TGF-βs, and matricellular proteins co-operate to activate cardiac myofibroblasts, and promote synthesis of matrix proteins. In comparison with the left ventricle, the RV tolerates well volume overload and ischemia; whether the right ventricular interstitial cells and matrix are implicated in these favourable responses remains unknown. Expansion of fibroblasts and extracellular matrix protein deposition are prominent features of arrhythmogenic right ventricular cardiomyopathies and may be implicated in the pathogenesis of arrhythmic events. Prevailing conceptual paradigms on right ventricular remodelling are based on extrapolation of findings in models of left ventricular injury. Considering the unique embryologic, morphological, and physiologic properties of the RV and the clinical significance of right ventricular failure, there is a need further to dissect RV-specific mechanisms of fibrosis and interstitial remodelling.


Arhhythmogenenic right ventricular cardiomyopathy; Cardiac fibrosis; Extracellular matrix; Pulmonary hypertension; Right ventricular failure

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