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The heart and beyond: intercellular and interorgan communication

Annual meeting 2- 5 May 2013- Varenna, Italy

The Annual Meeting of the Working Group on Myocardial Function and Cellular Biology of the Heart.



Intercellular and inter-organ communication is required to maintain homoeostasis in multicellular organisms. Given its life-supporting function, the heart is at the centre of a heavily studied network of interactions. Despite the long-recognized ability to receive and relay inputs to and from far and close neighbours, surprising new networks of interactions as well as new communication factors and mechanisms are currently emerging. The Myocardial Function and the Cellular Biology of the Heart Working groups of the European Society of Cardiology convened during 2–5 May 2013 to discuss emerging data and ongoing studies on intercellular and inter-organ communication, in health and disease.

2. New emerging communication factors

Cells interact through either direct contact or secreted agonists. The signal transduction machinery inside cells eventually translates interactions with limited numbers of agonists into a cellular response. This process of scanty molecules being pinpointed by high-affinity receptors is now flanked by other emerging mechanisms of communication that involve highly abundant messengers binding to relatively low-affinity detectors. Two novel intercellular communication paths are currently arising: the flooding of cells with secreted vesicles, the so-called exosomes, with various but information-rich contents, and the sensing of different species of circulating RNA, such as miRNAs that, once captured, elicit post-transcriptional regulation of gene expression, and the extracellular RNAs (eRNA) that, from the outside of cells, trigger membrane enzyme activation and generation of classical receptor agonists.
2.1 Exosomes and miRNA
An exciting new concept in the field of intercellular and inter-organ communication is the idea that microscopic vesicles may ferry proteins and RNA through interstitial fluid and blood. Building on this concept, miRNA and proteins from plasma microvesicles and exosomes may offer a great potential as biomarkers for cardiovascular risk and cellular injury. Specific miRNAs act as master regulators of angiogenesis, cardiomyocyte proliferation, and regulation of cell survival. In particular, the importance of miR-199, which seems to regulate a …

Read the full report published in the ESC Journal on Cardiovascular Research