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Xia, Ruibing; Tomsits, Philipp; Loy, Simone; Zhang, Zhihao; Pauly, Valerie; Schüttler, Dominik; Clauss, Sebastian (2022): Cardiac Macrophages and Their Effects on Arrhythmogenesis. Frontiers in Physiology, 13. ISSN 1664-042X

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Cardiac electrophysiology is a complex system established by a plethora of inward and outward ion currents in cardiomyocytes generating and conducting electrical signals in the heart. However, not only cardiomyocytes but also other cell types can modulate the heart rhythm. Recently, cardiac macrophages were demonstrated as important players in both electrophysiology and arrhythmogenesis. Cardiac macrophages are a heterogeneous group of immune cells including resident macrophages derived from embryonic and fetal precursors and recruited macrophages derived from circulating monocytes from the bone marrow. Recent studies suggest antiarrhythmic as well as proarrhythmic effects of cardiac macrophages. The proposed mechanisms of how cardiac macrophages affect electrophysiology vary and include both direct and indirect interactions with other cardiac cells. In this review, we provide an overview of the different subsets of macrophages in the heart and their possible interactions with cardiomyocytes under both physiologic conditions and heart disease. Furthermore, we elucidate similarities and differences between human, murine and porcine cardiac macrophages, thus providing detailed information for researchers investigating cardiac macrophages in important animal species for electrophysiologic research. Finally, we discuss the pros and cons of mice and pigs to investigate the role of cardiac macrophages in arrhythmogenesis from a translational perspective.

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