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Prog Cardiovasc Dis. 1996 Nov-Dec;39(3):239-62.

The cardiac endothelium: functional morphology, development, and physiology.

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Laboratory of Human Physiology and Pathophysiology, Antwerp University, Belgium.


Cardiac endothelial cells, regardless of whether they are from endocardial or from coronary (micro)vascular origin, directly modulate performance of the subjacent cardiomyocytes, resulting in control of the onset of ventricular relaxation and rapid filling of the heart. This review summarizes major features of the morphology, embryology, and comparative physiology of cardiac endothelial cells as well as the experimental observations on how cardiac endothelial cells affect the mechanical performance of the heart. As for the underlying mechanisms of the interaction between cardiac endothelial cells and cardiomyocytes, two working hypotheses have been postulated over the past years; (1) interaction mediated through a trans-endothelial physicochemical gradient for various ions (active blood-heart barrier), and (2) interaction mediated through the release by the cardiac endothelial cells of various cardioactive substances, eg, nitric oxide, endothelin, and prostacyclin. These two mechanisms may act in concert or in parallel.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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