Abstract Background We recently demonstrated that epicardial progenitor cells participate in the regenerative response to myocardial infarction (MI) and factors released in the pericardial fluid (PF) may play a key role in this process. Exosomes are secreted nanovesicles of endocytic origin, identified in most body fluids, which may contain molecules able to modulate a variety of cell functions. Here, we investigated whether exosomes are present in the PF and their potential role in cardiac repair. Methods and results Early gene expression studies in 3 day-infarcted mouse hearts showed that PF induces epithelial-to-mesenchymal transition (EMT) in epicardial cells. Exosomes were identified in PFs from non-infarcted patients (PFC) and patients with acute MI (PFMI). A shotgun proteomics analysis identified clusterin in exosomes isolated from PFMI but not from PFC. Notably, clusterin has a protective effect on cardiomyocytes after acute MI in vivo and is an important mediator of TGFβ-induced. Clusterin addition to the pericardial sac determined an increase in epicardial cells expressing the EMT marker α-SMA and, interestingly, an increase in the number of epicardial cells ckit+/α-SMA+, 7 days following MI. Importantly, clusterin treatment enhanced arteriolar length density and lowered apoptotic rates in the peri-infarct area. Hemodynamic studies demonstrated an improvement in cardiac function in clusterin-treated compared to untreated infarcted hearts. Conclusions Exosomes are present and detectable in the PFs. Clusterin was identified in PFMI-exosomes and might account for an improvement in myocardial performance following MI through a framework including EMT-mediated epicardial activation, arteriogenesis and reduced cardiomyocyte apoptosis.
- Cardiac repair
- Epicardial cells
- Molecular rehabilitation
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine