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Cytotherapy. 2005;7(1):3-15.

BM stem cells and cardiac repair: where do we stand in 2004?

Author information

1
Cardiovascular Branch, National Heart Lung and Blood Institute, NIH, Bethesda, Maryland 20892-1454, USA.

Abstract

Adult BM stem cells are being investigated for their potential to regenerate injured tissues by a process referred to as plasticity or transdifferentiation. Although data supporting stem cell plasticity is extensive, a controversy has emerged based on findings that propose cell-cell fusion as a more appropriate interpretation for this phenomenon. A major focus of this controversy is the claim that acutely infarcted myocardium in adult hearts can be regenerated by BM stem cells. Many researchers consider the adult heart to be a post-mitotic organ, whereas others believe that a low level of cardiomyocyte renewal occurs throughout life. If renewal occurs, it may be in response to cardiac stem cell activity or to stem cells that migrate from distant tissues. Post-mortem microscopic analysis of experimentally induced myocardial infarctions in several rodent models suggests that cardiomyocyte renewal is achieved by stem cells that infiltrate the damaged tissue. For a better understanding of the possible involvement of stem cells in myocardial regeneration, it is important to develop appropriate technologies to monitor myocardial repair over time with an emphasis on large animal models. Studies on non-human primate, swine and canine models of acute myocardial infarctions would enable investigators to utilize clinical quality cell-delivery devices, track labeled donor cells after precision transplantation and utilize non-invasive imaging for functional assays over time with clinical accuracy. In addition, if stem cell plasticity is to reach the next level of acceptance, it is important to identify the environmental cues needed for stem cell trafficking and to define the genetic and cellular mechanisms that initiate transdifferentiation. Only then will it be possible to determine if, and to what extent, BM stem cells are involved in myocardial regeneration and to begin to regulate precisely tissue repair.

PMID:
16040379
DOI:
10.1080/14653240510018028
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
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