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J Appl Physiol (1985). 2002 Jan;92(1):288-96.

Transplantation of embryonic stem cells improves cardiac function in postinfarcted rats.

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The Charles A. Dana Research Institute and the Harvard-Thorndike Laboratory, Boston Massachusetts 02215, USA.


Massive loss of cardiac myocytes after myocardial infarction (MI) is a common cause of heart failure. The present study was designed to investigate the improvement of cardiac function in MI rats after embryonic stem (ES) cell transplantation. MI in rats was induced by ligation of the left anterior descending coronary artery. Cultured ES cells used for cell transplantation were transfected with the marker green fluorescent protein (GFP). Animals in the treated group received intramyocardial injection of ES cells in injured myocardium. Compared with the MI control group injected with an equivalent volume of the cell-free medium, cardiac function in ES cell-implanted MI animals was significantly improved 6 wk after cell transplantation. The characteristic phenotype of engrafted ES cells was identified in implanted myocardium by strong positive staining to sarcomeric alpha-actin, cardiac alpha-myosin heavy chain, and troponin I. GFP-positive cells in myocardium sectioned from MI hearts confirmed the survival and differentiation of engrafted cells. In addition, single cells isolated from cell-transplanted MI hearts showed rod-shaped GFP-positive myocytes with typical striations. The present data demonstrate that ES cell transplantation is a feasible and novel approach to improve ventricular function in infarcted failing hearts.

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