Myocardial Extracellular Matrix An Ever-Changing and Diverse Entity

Marieke Rienks*, Anna-Pia Papageorgiou, Nikolaos G. Frangogiannis, Stephane Heymans

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


The cardiac extracellular matrix (ECM) is a complex architectural network consisting of structural and nonstructural proteins, creating strength and plasticity. The nonstructural compartment of the ECM houses a variety of proteins, which are vital for ECM plasticity, and can be divided into 3 major groups: glycoproteins, proteoglycans, and glycosaminoglycans. The common denominator for these groups is glycosylation, which refers to the decoration of proteins or lipids with sugars. This review will discuss the fundamental role of the matrix in cardiac development, homeostasis, and remodeling, from a glycobiology point of view. Glycoproteins (eg, thrombospondins, secreted protein acidic and rich in cysteine, tenascins), proteoglycans (eg, versican, syndecans, biglycan), and glycosaminoglycans (eg, hyaluronan, heparan sulfate) are upregulated on cardiac injury and regulate key processes in the remodeling myocardium such as inflammation, fibrosis, and angiogenesis. Albeit some parallels can be made regarding the processes these proteins are involved in, their specific functions are extremely diverse. In fact, under varying conditions, individual proteins can even have opposing functions, making spatiotemporal contribution of these proteins in the rearrangement of multifaceted ECM very hard to grasp. Alterations of protein characteristics by the addition of sugars may explain the immense, yet tightly regulated, variability of the remodeling cardiac matrix. Understanding the role of glycosylation in altering the ultimate function of glycoproteins, proteoglycans, and glycosaminoglycans in the myocardium may lead to the development of new biochemical structures or compounds with great therapeutic potential for patients with heart disease.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)872-888
JournalCirculation Research
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 28 Feb 2014


  • glycoproteins
  • glycosaminoglycans
  • glycosylation
  • proteoglycans

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