Non-coding RNAs that regulate glial cell function in the diseased heart

Team: Reginald van der Kwast, Sönke Michel, Sabine Brummer, Karin Ziegler

The heart is densely innervated by nerve fibres which regulate cardiac function on a beat-to-beat basis. Heart disease is accompanied by dramatic changes to cardiac innervation, which directly affects cardiac function. To lay the groundwork for novel therapies, we need a better understanding of cellular processes that regulate the cardiac neuronal network's integrity and remodelling.

Glial cells (GCs), which cover almost all neuronal cell surfaces, locally regulate neuronal function and remodelling. While neuronal function and remodelling play a key role in heart disease, little is known about the role of cardiac GCs and their non-coding RNAs.

We aim to characterize cardiac GCs during heart disease and identify non-coding RNAs that mediate neuronal remodelling. To do so we will use several cutting-edge techniques, including single cell sequencing and wholemount imaging of optically cleared organs. The knowledge gained with these approaches are expected to fuel new translational approaches to improve the integrity and regeneration of cardiac neuronal network during disease.