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Am J Physiol Heart Circ Physiol. 2006 Apr;290(4):H1393-405. Epub 2005 Dec 30.

Bioenergetic and functional consequences of stem cell-based VEGF delivery in pressure-overloaded swine hearts.

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  • 1Cardiovascular Division, Dept. of Medicine, University of Minnesota Medical School, Minneapolis, MN 55455, USA.


In an established swine model of severe left ventricular (LV) hypertrophy (LVH), the bioenergetic and functional consequences of transplanting autologous mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs) overexpressing vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF-MSCs) into the LV were evaluated; transplantation was accomplished by infusion of VEGF-MSCs into the interventricular cardiac vein. Specifically, the hypertrophic response to aortic banding was compared in seven pigs treated with 30 million VEGF-MSCs, eight pigs treated with 30 million MSCs without VEGF modification, and 19 untreated LVH pigs. Eight pigs without banding or cell transplantation (normal) were also studied. Four weeks postbanding, LV wall thickening (MRI), myocardial blood flow (MBF), high-energy phosphate levels ((31)P magnetic resonance spectroscopy), and hemodynamic measurements were obtained under basal conditions and during a catecholamine-induced high cardiac workstate (HCW). Although 9 of 19 untreated banded pigs developed clinical evidence of biventricular failure, no MSCs-treated animal developed heart failure. MSCs engraftment was present in both cell transplant groups, and both baseline and HCW MBF values were significantly increased in hearts receiving VEGF-MSCs compared with other groups (P < 0.05). During HCW, cardiac inotropic reserve (defined as the percent increase of rate pressure product at HCW relative to baseline) was normal in the VEGF-MSCs group and significantly decreased in all other banded groups. Additionally, during HCW, the myocardial energetic state [reflected by the phosphocreatine-to-ATP ratio (PCr/ATP)] of VEGF-MSCs-treated hearts remained stable, whereas in all other groups, PCr/ATP decreased significantly from baseline values (P < 0.05, each group). Myocardial von Willebrand factor and VEGF mRNA expressions and myocardial capillary density were significantly increased in VEGF-MSCs-treated hearts (P < 0.05). Hence, in the pressure-overloaded LV, transplantation of VEGF-MSCs prevents LV decompensation, induces neovascularization, attenuates hypertrophy, and improves MBF, myocardial bioenergetic characteristics, and contractile performance.

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