Regulated addition of new myocardial and epicardial cells fosters homeostatic cardiac growth and maintenance in adult zebrafish.
The heart maintains structural and functional integrity during years of continual contraction, but the extent to which new cell creation participates in cardiac homeostasis is unclear. Here, we assessed cellular and molecular mechanisms of cardiac homeostasis in zebrafish, which display indeterminate growth and possess an unusual capacity to regenerate after acute cardiac injury. Lowering fish density in the aquarium triggered rapid animal growth and robust cardiomyocyte proliferation throughout the adult ventricle, greater than that observed during slow animal growth or size maintenance. Rapid animal growth also induced strong expression of the embryonic epicardial markers raldh2 (aldh1a2) and tbx18 in adult epicardial tissue. Pulse-chase dye labeling experiments revealed that the epicardium recurrently contributes cells to the ventricular wall, indicating an active homeostatic process. Inhibition of signaling by Fibroblast growth factors (Fgfs) decreased this epicardial supplementation of the ventricular wall in growing zebrafish, and led to spontaneous ventricular scarring in animals maintaining cardiac size. Our results demonstrate that the adult zebrafish ventricle grows and is maintained by cardiomyocyte hyperplasia, and that epicardial cells are added to the ventricle in an Fgf-dependent fashion to support homeostasis.
Wills, AA; Holdway, JE; Major, RJ; Poss, KD
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