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Circ Heart Fail. 2009 Nov;2(6):643-53. doi: 10.1161/CIRCHEARTFAILURE.108.843722. Epub 2009 Aug 6.

A new direction for cardiac regeneration therapy: application of synergistically acting epicardium-derived cells and cardiomyocyte progenitor cells.

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  • 1Departments of Anatomy and Embryology, Molecular Cell Biology, and Cardiology, Leiden University Medical Center, Leiden, The Netherlands.



Adult human epicardium-derived cells (EPDCs), transplanted into the infarcted heart, are known to improve cardiac function, mainly through paracrine protection of the surrounding tissue. We hypothesized that this effect might be further improved if these supportive EPDCs were combined with cells that could possibly supply the ischemic heart with new cardiomyocytes. Therefore, we transplanted EPDCs together with cardiomyocyte progenitor cells that can generate mature cardiomyocytes in vitro.


EPDCs and cardiomyocyte progenitor cells were isolated from human adult atrial appendages, expanded in culture, and transplanted separately or together into the infarcted mouse myocardium (total cell number, 4x10(5)). Cardiac function was determined 6 weeks later (9.4T MRI). Coculturing increased proliferation rate and production of several growth factors, indicating a mutual effect. Cotransplantation resulted in further improvement of cardiac function compared with single cell-type recipients (P<0.05), which themselves demonstrated better function than vehicle-injected controls (P<0.05). However, in contrast to our hypothesis, no graft-derived cardiomyocytes were observed within the 6-week survival, supporting that not only EPDCs but also cardiomyocyte progenitor cells acted in a paracrine manner. Because injected cell number and degree of engraftment were similar between groups, the additional functional improvement in the cotransplantation group cannot be explained by an increased amount of secreted factors but rather by an altered type of secretion.


EPDCs and cardiomyocyte progenitor cells synergistically improve cardiac function after myocardial infarction, probably instigated by complementary paracrine actions. Our results demonstrate for the first time that synergistically acting cells hold great promise for future clinical regeneration therapy.

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