Mechanobiology of Cardiac Fibroblasts
The healthy myocardium contains cardiomyocytes, mast cells, ™broblasts, and other vascular cell types. Cardiac ™broblasts constitute the largest cell population in the heart and therefore understanding how these cells function is essential for studying heart disease. Recent research has focused on how cardiac ™broblasts affect a broad range of cardiac pathologies: arrhythmias, dilated cardiomyopathy, cardiac hypertrophy, and other systolic-and diastolic-related diseases. In order to understand how cardiac ™broblasts contribute to these various disease states, it is necessary to learn how these cells respond to changes in biochemical and mechanical stimuli. Both have important impact on cell function, and this chapter focuses primarily on the effect of the mechanical environment. In addition, it addresses relevant biochemical factors, since the mechanical and biochemical environments are intimately linked. The process by which cells transduce mechanical signals into a biological response has been termed mechanobiology. The mechanobiology of cardiac ™broblasts has been the subject of extensive research in recent years, the results of which have had direct implications for the treatment of heart disease. This chapter provides an overview of the mechanical forces present in the myocardium, the cardiac ™broblast phenotype, and presents key recent results in the area of cardiac ™broblast mechanobiology.