Monocytes in Myocardial Infarction

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Myocardial infarction (MI) is the leading cause of death in developed countries. Though timely revascularization of the ischemic myocardium and current standard therapy reduce acute mortality after MI, long-term morbidity and mortality remain high. During the first 1 to 2 weeks after MI, tissues in the infarcted myocardium undergo rapid turnover, including digestion of extracellular matrix and fibrosis. Post-MI repair is crucial to survival. Monocytes recruited to the infarcted myocardium remove debris and facilitate the repair process. However, exaggerated inflammation may also impede healing, as demonstrated by the association between elevated white blood cell count and in-hospital mortality after MI. Monocytes produced in the bone marrow and spleen enter the blood after MI and are recruited to the injured myocardium in 2 phases. The first phase is dominated by Ly-6chigh monocytes and the second phase by Ly-6clow monocytes. Yet the number of Ly6Clow monocytes recruited to the infarct is much lower, and Ly6Chigh monocytes can differentiate to Ly6Clow macrophages in later healing stages. Understanding the signals regulating monocytosis after MI will help design new therapies to facilitate cardiac healing and limit heart failure.

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