, Volume 96, Issue 1, pp 1-14

Collagen and the myocardium: fibrillar structure, biosynthesis and degradation in relation to hypertrophy and its regression

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Abstract

The extracellular matrix of the myocardium contains an elaborate structural matrix composed mainly of fibrillar types I and III collagen. This matrix is responsible for the support and alignment of myocytes and capillaries. Because of its alignment, location, configuration and tensile strength, relative to cardiac myocytes, the collagen matrix represents a major determinant of myocardial stiffness. Cardiac fibroblasts, not myocytes, contain the mRNA for these fibrillar collagens. In the hypertrophic remodeling of the myocardium that accompanies arterial hypertension, a progressive structural and biochemical remodeling of the matrix follows enhanced collagen gene expression. The resultant significant accumulation of collagen in the interstitium and around intramyocardial coronary arteries, or interstitial and perivascular fibrosis, represents a pathologic remodeling of the myocardium that compromises this normally efficient pump. This report reviews the structural nature, biosynthesis and degradation of collagen in the normal and hypertrophied myocardium. It suggests that interstitial heart disease, or the disproportionate growth of the extracellular matrix relative to myocyte hypertrophy, is an entity that merits greater understanding, particularly the factors regulating types I and III collagen gene expression and their degradation.