The extracellular matrix (ECM) forms a mesh surrounding tissue, made up of fibrous and non-fibrous proteins that contribute to the cellular function, mechanical properties of the tissue and physiological function of the organ. The cardiac ECM remodels in response to mechanical alterations (e.g., pressure overload, volume overload) or injuries (e.g., myocardial infarction, bacterial infection), which further leads to mechanical and functional changes of the heart. Collagen, the most prevalent ECM protein in the body, contributes significantly to the mechanical behavior of myocardium during disease progression. Alterations in collagen fiber morphology and alignment, isoform, and cross-linking occur during the progression of various cardiac diseases. Acute or compensatory remodeling of cardiac ECM maintains normal cardiac function. However, chronic or decompensatory remodeling eventually results in heart failure, and the exact mechanism of transition into maladaptation remains unclear. This review aims to summarize the primary role of collagen accumulation (fibrosis) in heart failure progression, with a focus on its effects on myocardial tissue mechanical properties and cellular and organ functions.
Part of the book: Extracellular Matrix