Investigating interactions between epicardial adipose tissue and cardiac myocytes: what can we learn from different approaches?

Rietdorf, Katja and MacQueen, Hilary (2017). Investigating interactions between epicardial adipose tissue and cardiac myocytes: what can we learn from different approaches? British Journal of Pharmacology, 174(20) pp. 3542–3560.

DOI: https://doi.org/10.1111/bph.13678

Abstract

Heart disease is a major cause of morbidity and mortality throughout the world. Some cardiovascular conditions can be modulated by lifestyle factors such as increased exercise or a healthier diet, but many require surgical or pharmacological interventions for their management. More targeted and less invasive therapies would be beneficial. Recently it has become apparent that epicardial adipose tissue plays an important role in normal and pathological cardiac function, and it is now the focus of considerable research. Epicardial adipose tissue can be studied by imaging of various kinds, and these approaches have yielded much useful information. However at a molecular level it is more difficult to study as it is relatively scarce in animal models and, for practical and ethical reasons, not always available in sufficient quantities from patients. What is needed is a robust model system in which the interactions between epicardial adipocytes and cardiac myocytes can be studied, and physiologically relevant manipulations performed. There are drawbacks to conventional culture methods, not least the difficulty of culturing both cardiac myocytes and adipocytes, each of which has special requirements. We discuss the benefits of a three-dimensional co-culture model in which in vivo interactions can be replicated.

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