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Stem Cells Int. 2013;2013:916837. doi: 10.1155/2013/916837. Epub 2013 May 12.

Human cardiospheres as a source of multipotent stem and progenitor cells.

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  • 1Molecular Cardiology Laboratory and Department of Cardiology, Fondazione Cardiocentro Ticino, Via Tesserete 48, 6900 Lugano, Switzerland.


Cardiospheres (CSs) are self-assembling multicellular clusters from the cellular outgrowth from cardiac explants cultured in nonadhesive substrates. They contain a core of primitive, proliferating cells, and an outer layer of mesenchymal/stromal cells and differentiating cells that express cardiomyocyte proteins and connexin 43. Because CSs contain both primitive cells and committed progenitors for the three major cell types present in the heart, that is, cardiomyocytes, endothelial cells, and smooth muscle cells, and because they are derived from percutaneous endomyocardial biopsies, they represent an attractive cell source for cardiac regeneration. In preclinical studies, CS-derived cells (CDCs) delivered to infarcted hearts resulted in improved cardiac function. CDCs have been tested safely in an initial phase-1 clinical trial in patients after myocardial infarction. Whether or not CDCs are superior to purified populations, for example, c-kit(+) cardiac stem cells, or to gene therapy approaches for cardiac regeneration remains to be evaluated.

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