The mammalian heart is characterized by the presence of striated myocytes, which allow continuous rhythmic contraction from early embryonic development until the last moments of life. However, the myocardium contains a significant contingent of leukocytes from every major class. This leukocyte pool includes both resident and nonresident immune cells. Over recent decades, it has become increasingly apparent that the heart is intimately sensitive to immune signaling and that myocardial leukocytes exhibit an array of critical functions, both in homeostasis and in the context of cardiac adaptation to injury. Here, we systematically review current knowledge of all major leukocyte classes in the heart, discussing their functions in health and disease. We also highlight the connection between the myocardium, immune cells, lymphoid organs, and both local and systemic immune responses.

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