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Karthik Amudhala Hemanthakumar and Riikka Kivelä

Endothelial cells (ECs) line the inner surface of all blood and lymphatic vessels throughout the body, making endothelium one of the largest tissues. In addition to its transport function, endothelium is now appreciated as a dynamic organ actively participating in angiogenesis, permeability and vascular tone regulation, as well as in the development and regeneration of tissues. The identification of endothelial-derived secreted factors, angiocrines, has revealed non-angiogenic mechanisms of endothelial cells in both physiological and pathological tissue remodeling. In the heart, ECs play a variety of important roles during cardiac development as well as in growth, homeostasis and regeneration of the adult heart. To date, several angiocrines affecting cardiomyocyte growth in response to physiological or pathological stimuli have been identified. In this review, we discuss the effects of angiogenesis and EC-mediated signaling in the regulation of cardiac hypertrophy. Identification of the molecular and metabolic signals from ECs during physiological and pathological cardiac growth could provide novel therapeutic targets to treat heart failure, as endothelium is emerging as one of the potential target organs in cardiovascular and metabolic diseases.