Cardiac disease causes 33% of deaths worldwide but our knowledge of disease progression is still very limited. In vitro models utilising and combining multiple, differentiated cell types have been used to recapitulate the range of myocardial microenvironments in an effort to delineate the mechanical, humoral, and electrical interactions that modulate the cardiac contractile function in health and the pathogenesis of human disease. However, due to limitations in isolating these cell types and changes in their structure and function in vitro, the field is now focused on the development and use of stem cell-derived cell types, most notably, human-induced pluripotent stem cell-derived CMs (hiPSC-CMs), in modelling the CM function in health and patient-specific diseases, allowing us to build on the findings from studies using animal and adult human CMs. It is becoming increasingly appreciated that communications between cardiomyocytes (CMs), the contractile cell of the heart, and the non-myocyte components of the heart not only regulate cardiac development and maintenance of health and adult CM functions, including the contractile state, but they also regulate remodelling in diseases, which may cause the chronic impairment of the contractile function of the myocardium, ultimately leading to heart failure. Within the myocardium, each CM is surrounded by an intricate network of cell types including endothelial cells, fibroblasts, vascular smooth muscle cells, sympathetic neurons, and resident macrophages, and the extracellular matrix (ECM), forming complex interactions, and models utilizing hiPSC-derived cell types offer a great opportunity to investigate these interactions further. In this review, we outline the historical and current state of disease modelling, focusing on the major milestones in the development of stem cell-derived cell types, and how this technology has contributed to our knowledge about the interactions between CMs and key non-myocyte components of the heart in health and disease, in particular, heart failure. Understanding where we stand in the field will be critical for stem cell-based applications, including the modelling of diseases that have complex multicellular dysfunctions.
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