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Int J Biochem Cell Biol. 2004 Apr;36(4):658-66.

Adult stem cell therapy for the heart.

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  • 1MacroPore Biosurgery Inc., San Diego, CA 92121, USA.


The purpose of this review is to summarize current data leading to and arising from recent clinical application of cellular therapy for acute myocardial infarct (heart attack) and congestive heart failure. We specifically focus on use of adult stem cells and compare and contrast bone marrow and adipose tissue; two different sources from which stem cells can be harvested in substantial numbers with limited morbidity. Cellular therapy is the latest in a series of strategies applied in an effort to prevent or mitigate the progressive and otherwise irreversible loss of cardiac function that frequently follows a heart attack. Unlike surgical, pharmacologic, and gene transfer approaches, cellular therapy has the potential to restore cardiac function by providing cells capable of regenerating damaged myocardium and/or myocardial function. Skeletal muscle myoblast expansion and transfer allows delivery of cells with contractile function, albeit without any evidence of cardiomyogenesis or electrical coupling to remaining healthy myocardium. Delivery of endothelial progenitor cells (EPCs) which drive reperfusion of infarct zone tissues is also promising, although this mechanism is directed at halting ongoing degeneration rather than initiating a regenerative process. By contrast, demonstration of the ability of adult stem cells to undergo cardiomyocyte differentiation both in vitro and in vivo suggests a potential for regenerative medicine. This potential is being examined in early clinical studies.

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