The intercalated disc: a mechanosensing signalling node in cardiomyopathy

Mihai Pruna, Elisabeth Ehler*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

22 Citations (Scopus)


Cardiomyocytes, the cells generating contractile force in the heart, are connected to each other through a highly specialised structure, the intercalated disc (ID), which ensures force transmission and transduction between neighbouring cells and allows the myocardium to function in synchrony. In addition, cardiomyocytes possess an intrinsic ability to sense mechanical changes and to regulate their own contractile output accordingly. To achieve this, some of the components responsible for force transmission have evolved to sense changes in tension and to trigger a biochemical response that results in molecular and cellular changes in cardiomyocytes. This becomes of particular importance in cardiomyopathies, where the heart is exposed to increased mechanical load and needs to adapt to sustain its contractile function. In this review, we will discuss key mechanosensing elements present at the intercalated disc and provide an overview of the signalling molecules involved in mediating the responses to changes in mechanical force.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)931-946
Number of pages16
JournalBiophysical Reviews
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 1 Aug 2020


  • Cardiomyopathy
  • Cell-cell contact
  • Cytoskeleton
  • Intercalated disc
  • Mechanobiology


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