Making better scar: Emerging approaches for modifying mechanical and electrical properties following infarction and ablation

Academic Article


  • Following myocardial infarction (MI), damaged myocytes are replaced by collagenous scar tissue, which serves an important mechanical function - maintaining integrity of the heart wall against enormous mechanical forces - but also disrupts electrical function as structural and electrical remodeling in the infarct and borderzone predispose to re-entry and ventricular tachycardia. Novel emerging regenerative approaches aim to replace this scar tissue with viable myocytes. Yet an alternative strategy of therapeutically modifying selected scar properties may also prove important, and in some cases may offer similar benefits with lower risk or regulatory complexity. Here, we review potential goals for such modifications as well as recent proof-of-concept studies employing specific modifications, including gene therapy to locally increase conduction velocity or prolong the refractory period in and around the infarct scar, and modification of scar anisotropy to improve regional mechanics and pump function. Another advantage of scar modification techniques is that they have applications well beyond MI. In particular, ablation treats electrical abnormalities of the heart by intentionally generating scar to block aberrant conduction pathways. Yet in diseases such as atrial fibrillation (AF) where ablation can be extensive, treating the electrical disorder can significantly impair mechanical function. Creating smaller, denser scars that more effectively block conduction, and choosing the location of those lesions by balancing their electrical and mechanical impacts, could significantly improve outcomes for AF patients. We review some recent advances in this area, including the use of computational models to predict the mechanical effects of specific lesion sets and gene therapy for functional ablation. Overall, emerging techniques for modifying scar properties represents a potentially important set of tools for improving patient outcomes across a range of heart diseases, whether used in place of or as an adjunct to regenerative approaches.
  • Authors

    Digital Object Identifier (doi)

    Author List

  • Holmes JW; Laksman Z; Gepstein L
  • Start Page

  • 134
  • End Page

  • 148
  • Volume

  • 120
  • Issue

  • 1-3