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Featured Open Lecture - July/August 2019
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Introducing Featured Open Lectures

This is a new initiative from the Society to highlight our online educational platform EAS ACADEMY. Every other month we select one interesting lecture from a recent course or congress and make it available for free, to members and non-members.

Open Lecture July/August 2019

The immune system: The next game-changer?. EAS Academy, Professor Matthias Nahrendorf,Harvard Medical School, Boston, USA.

This presentation was given as a plenary lecture entitled “The immune system: The next game-changer?" by professor Nahrendorf at the EAS 2019 congress in Maastricht.
In his plenary lecture professor Nahrendorf gave an overview of immune cells implicated in cardiac disease, and highlighted that new technologies have facilitated our recent understanding of immune cells in cardiovascular disease. It is now well-recognized that both resident macrophages in the heart originating from local proliferation as well as macrophages originating from the bone marrow are important in cardiac disease.

After a myocardial infarction (MI) macrophages are recruited from the bone marrow and are responsible for replacing the damaged ischemic tissue. Inflammatory processes are turned on and professor Nahrendorf suggested a potential role for anti-inflammatory treatment post MI, for example in the form of IL-1β antibodies.

Resident cardiac macrophages are heterogeneously spread in the cardiac tissue, and associate especially with the conduction system. By performing single-cell RNA sequencing, Nahrendorf and co-workers saw that genes associated with cardiac conduction are upregulated in these resident macrophages. Interestingly, there seem to be interaction between the cardiomyocyte and cardiac resident macrophages, and connexin 43 is an important linker between the two cell types. The resident macrophages seem to electrically modulate myocytes, and when knocking down connexin 43, macrophages detach from the myocytes, resulting in arythmias. Nahrendorf and co-workers plan to follow up on these findings with detailed studies of atrial and ventricular fibrillation.

Professor Nahrendorf concludes that the immune system may well be the new game changer.

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