Cardiac Stroma

The heart consists not only of cardiomyocytes, but to an even larger extent of connective tissue, the “cardiac stroma”. Within the cardiac stroma various cell types, such as endothelial cells, fibroblasts, hematopoietic cells and others interact with each other and with cardiomyocytes. The importance of the cardiac stroma for both physiologic and pathologic processes is increasingly being recognized.

Focus of our research team is the pathomechanism of cardiac fibrosis, a pathologic scarring process which occurs in all forms of chronic heart disease, and which contributes to heart failure. Our approach is to transfer clinical analyses into animal models and cell culture experiments to thus gain mechanistic insights into the pathophysiology of heart fibrosis.

Currently, we are performing clinical analyses and animal studies with respect to the pathogenesis of the congenital heart disease hypoplastic left heart syndrome (in collaboration with the Children’s Hospital, Harvard Medical School, Boston) as well as the pathogenesis of cardiac fibrosis in patients with chronic renal disease (in collaboration with the Brigham  and Women’s Hospital, Harvard Medical School, Boston). Other key aspects of our research group are the study of epigenetic modifications in cardiac fibrosis and the cellular mechanism of endothelial to mesenchymal transition.

Prof. Dr. med. Elisabeth Zeisberg
Group leader
WG Cardiac Stroma