Endocardial Cell Plasticity in Cardiac Development, Diseases and Regeneration

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Endocardial cells are specialized endothelial cells that form the innermost layer of the heart wall. By virtue of genetic lineage–tracing technology, many of the unexpected roles of endocardium during murine heart development, diseases, and regeneration have been identified recently. In addition to heart valves developed from the well-known endothelial to mesenchymal transition, recent fate-mapping studies using mouse models reveal that multiple cardiac cell lineages are also originated from the endocardium. This review focuses on a variety of different cell types that are recently reported to be endocardium derived during murine heart development, diseases, and regeneration. These multiple cell fates underpin the unprecedented roles of endocardial progenitors in function, pathological progression, and regeneration of the heart. Because emerging studies suggest that developmental mechanisms can be redeployed and recapitulated in promoting heart disease development and also cardiac repair and regeneration, understanding the mechanistic regulation of endocardial plasticity and modulation of their cell fate conversion may uncover new therapeutic potential in facilitating heart regeneration.

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