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Keywords:

  • (sub)epicardium;
  • epithelial-mesenchymal transition (EMT);
  • isolated smooth muscle cells;
  • interstitial Cajal-like cells (ICLCs);
  • mesothelial cells;
  • mesenchymal cells;
  • cardiac regeneration

Abstract

The human sub-epicardial area contains an unexplored cellular population under a layer of mesothelial cells. Transmission electron microscopy revealed the existence of interstitial Cajal-like cells (ICLCs), isolated smooth muscle cells (iSMC) and mesenchymal cells besides other well-known cells. The presence of iSMC in the sub-epicardial space is quite unique and could explain why epicardial-derived cells isolated from human epicardium generate smooth muscle cells in culture. Mesenchymal cells, guided by ICLCs, were found migrating from sub-epicardial area in the mesothelial layer. These findings suggest that epithelial-mesenchymal transition is not a common process involved in cardiac regeneration in vivo.