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Trends Biotechnol. 2007 Oct;25(10):441-7. Epub 2007 Sep 10.

Cardiac stem cells: paradigm shift or broken promise? A view from developmental biology.

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  • 1Max-Planck-Institute for Heart and Lung Research, Department of Cardiac Development and Remodeling, Parkstrasse 1, 61231 Bad Nauheim, Germany.


For several decades, it has been known that many tissues of the human body replenish themselves with the help of specialized stem cells. Although the role of stem cells for organs with a rapid cellular turnover is well established, other organs have seemed to be exempt from stem cell-based repair. Recent studies have suggested that the heart has an inherent ability to replace its parenchymal cells continuously either by resident stem cells or by other cells that are recruited into the heart. The evidence for this acclaimed paradigm shift, however, is limited. The basis of the acclaimed beneficial effects of stem cell therapies must be investigated carefully and the fates of potential cardiac stem cells need to be studied by established cell tracing techniques.

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