The heart exhibits remarkable adaptive responses to a wide array of genetic and extrinsic factors to maintain contractile function. When compensatory responses are not sustainable, cardiac dysfunction occurs, leading to cardiomyopathy. The many forms of cardiomyopathy exhibit a set of overlapping phenotypes reflecting the limited range of compensatory responses that the heart can use. These include cardiac hypertrophy, induction of genes normally expressed during development, fibrotic deposits that replace necrotic and apoptotic cardiomyocytes, and metabolic disturbances. The compensatory responses are mediated by signaling pathways that initially serve to maintain normal contractility; however, persistent activation of these pathways leads to cardiac dysfunction. Current research focuses on ways to target these specific pathways therapeutically.
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