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J Mol Cell Cardiol. 2007 Apr;42(4):746-59. Epub 2006 Dec 23.

Human amniotic fluid-derived stem cells are rejected after transplantation in the myocardium of normal, ischemic, immuno-suppressed or immuno-deficient rat.

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Deparment of Biomedical Sciences, University of Padua, Viale G. Colombo, 3 35121 Padova, Italy.


Human amniotic fluid-derived stem (AFS) cells, similarly to embryonic stem cells, could possess privileged immunological characteristics suitable for a successful transplantation even in a discordant xenograft system. We investigated whether AFS cells could be fruitfully used in a rat model of myocardial infarction. c-kit immunomagnetic-sorted AFS cells were characterized by flow cytometric analysis and cytospins as well as reverse-transcription polymerase chain reaction, Western blotting and immunocytochemistry for cardiovascular differentiation markers. In vitro, AFS cell phenotypic conversion was assayed by cardiovascular-specific induction media or co-cultured with rat neonatal cardiomyocytes. AFS cells showed mRNAs and/or protein for endothelial (angiopoietin, CD146) and smooth muscle (smoothelin) cells, and cardiomyocyte (Nkx2.5, MLC-2v, GATA-4, beta-MyHC) markers. Acquisition of a cardiomyocyte-like phenotype in rare AFS cells could be seen only in co-cultures with rat neonatal cells. In vivo, AFS cells xenotransplantated in a rat model of myocardial infarction, with or without cyclosporine treatment, or in intact heart from immuno-competent or immuno-deficient animals were acutely rejected due to the different recruitment of recipient CD4(+), CD8(+) T and B lymphocytes, NK cells and macrophages. This reaction is most likely to be linked to expression of B7 co-stimulatory molecules CD80 and CD86 as well as macrophage marker CD68 on AFS cells. Xenotransplanted AFS cells gave also rise in some animals to cell masses in the subendocardium and myocardium suggestive of a process of chondro-osteogenic differentiation. Despite AFS cells in vitro can differentiate to some extent to cells of cardiovascular lineages, their in vivo use in xenotransplantation for cell therapy of myocardial infarction is hampered by their peculiar immunogenic properties and phenotypic instability.

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