Why Clinicians Should Care About the Cardiac Interstitium
Erik B Schelbert, Javed Butler, Javier Diez
Interstitial heart disease, whether primarily from myocardial fibrosis or cardiac amyloidosis, indicates excess protein accumulation in the interstitium and constitutes a major source of heart failure with excess cardiac morbidity and mortality. Myocardial fibrosis (defined as excess myocardial collagen concentration that distorts myocardial architecture) is prevalent and causes cardiac symptoms and ultimately adverse cardiac events, such as heart failure, arrhythmia, and death. Conversely, cardiac amyloidosis is far less prevalent than myocardial fibrosis but represents a more extreme form of interstitial heart disease with marked interstitial expansion, profound architectural distortion, and then rapid clinical decline.
Myocardial extracellular volume measures fundamentally advance the understanding of myocardium and specifically highlights the role of the interstitium. Rather than conceptualizing myocardium as a homogenous tissue, dichotomizing the myocardium into its interstitial (including the microvasculature) and cardiomyocyte phenotypes promotes additional understanding of heart failure pathophysiology that may spur the development of more effective therapies.