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Ann N Y Acad Sci. 2010 Feb;1188:7-14. doi: 10.1111/j.1749-6632.2009.05077.x.

The integrative aspects of cardiac physiology and their implications for cell-based therapy.

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Department of Cardiology, Leiden University Medical Center, Leiden, the Netherlands.


Cardiac development is characterized by a complex interplay of chemical, mechanical, and electrical forces, which together contribute to the proper formation of the heart muscle. In adult myocardium, cardiomyocytes are elongated, well-coupled by gap junctions, and organized in spatially well-defined muscle fibers. This specific tissue architecture affects electromechanical activation and global cardiac function. Since the adult heart has only limited capacity for repair after injury, a significant loss of myocardial tissue often leads to impaired cardiac function. Recent efforts to transplant autologous cells to counteract this cardiomyocyte loss have resulted in marginal functional improvement and no evidence of myocyte regeneration. In order to achieve durable therapeutic efficiency, the transplanted cells will need to not only be cardiomyogenic, but also functionally integrate with host myocardial tissue and thereby contribute to both structural and functional restoration.

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