The mechanistic basis for why inflammation is simultaneously both deleterious and essential for tissue repair is not fully understood. Recently, a new paradigm has emerged: Organs are replete with resident macrophages of embryonic origin distinct from monocytederived macrophages. This added complexity raises the question of whether distinct immune cells drive inflammatory and reparative activities after injury. Previous work has demonstrated that the neonatal heart has a remarkable capacity for tissue repair compared with the adult heart, offering an ideal context to examine these concepts. We hypothesized that unrecognized differences in macrophage composition is a key determinant of cardiac tissue repair. Using a genetic model of cardiomyocyte ablation, we demonstrated that neonatal mice expand a population of embryonic-derived resident cardiac macrophages, which generate minimal inflammation and promote cardiac recovery through cardiomyocyte proliferation and angiogenesis. During homeostasis, the adult heart contains embryonic-derived macrophages with similar properties. However, after injury, these cells were replaced by monocyte-derived macrophages that are proinflammatory and lacked reparative activities. Inhibition of monocyte recruitment to the adult heart preserved embryonic-derived macrophage subsets, reduced inflammation, and enhanced tissue repair. These findings indicate that embryonicderived macrophages are key mediators of cardiac recovery and suggest that therapeutics targeting distinct macrophage lineages may serve as novel treatments for heart failure.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)16029-16034
Number of pages6
JournalProceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
Issue number45
StatePublished - Nov 11 2014


  • Cardiac repair
  • Inflammation
  • Macrophages


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