Department of Women's Health, Research Institute for Women's Health, Eberhard Karls University, Silcherstrasse 7/1, 72076 Tübingen, Germany; The Natural and Medical Sciences Institute (NMI) at the University of Tübingen, Markwiesenstr. 55, 72770 Reutlingen, Germany; Department of Medicine/Cardiology, Cardiovascular Research Laboratories, David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA, 675 Charles E. Young Drive South, MRL, 3645 Los Angeles, CA, USA. Electronic address: [Email]
Fibrotic diseases cause annually more than 800,000 deaths worldwide, whereof the majority accounts for lung and cardiac fibrosis. A pathological remodeling of the extracellular matrix either due to ageing or as a result of an injury or disease leads to fibrotic scars. In the heart, these scars cause several cardiac dysfunctions either by reducing the ejection fraction due to a stiffened myocardial matrix, or by impairing electric conductance, or they can even lead to death. Today it is known that there are several different types of cardiac scars depending on the underlying cause of fibrosis. In this review, we present an overview of what is known about cardiac fibrosis including the role of cardiac cells and extracellular matrix in this disease. We will further summarize current diagnostic tools and highlight pre-clinical or clinical therapeutic strategies to address cardiac fibrosis.