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J Mol Cell Cardiol. 2007 Oct;43(4):377-87. Epub 2007 Jul 31.

Do stem cells in the heart truly differentiate into cardiomyocytes?

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Department of Cardiology and Pneumology, Heart Centre, Georg-August-University of Göttingen, Robert-Koch-Str. 40, 37075 Göttingen, Germany.


Chronic congestive heart failure (CHF) is a common consequence of heart muscle or valve damage and remains a major cause of morbidity and mortality worldwide. There are increasing interests to treat cardiac failure by stem cell-based therapy. Many types of stem cells or progenitor cells have been suggested for cellular therapy of heart failure. While stem cell-based therapy was initially thought to be achieved by transdifferentiation of stem cells into myocardial cells including cardiomyocytes it has become clear that this may be rather an infrequent event. Instead cardiac regeneration may result from vascular differentiation of stem cells or even from stem cell-mediated reverse remodelling. Thus the term stem cell-mediated cardiac regeneration covers the spectrum from stem cell transdifferentiation into cardiomyocytes to cell-mediated pharmacotherapy. In this review we revise stem cell-based cardiac regeneration both in experimental models and in clinical application. We have limited our discussion on some selected types of stem cells, with particular emphasis on their differentiation potential, current status and perspectives on their future applications.

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