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Cell Cycle. 2011 Jul 15;10(14):2281-6. Epub 2011 Jul 15.

Stem cell induced cardiac regeneration: fusion/mitochondrial exchange and/or transdifferentiation?

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Department of Molecular Pathology, Center for Stem Cell and Developmental Biology, The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center, Houston, TX, USA.


Potentially, adult stem cell-based therapy provides a new therapeutic option for myocardial regeneration. However, to date, with regard to the benefits seen, the mechanisms involved in stem cell-based therapy are not well understood. Suggested pathways proposed so far include fusion of stem cells with cardiomyocytes, transdifferentiation into cardiac and vascular cells and secretion of paracrine factors. In a recent study, our group examined the fate of human adipose tissue-derived stem cells (hASCs) fused with rat cardiomyocytes after treatment with fusion-inducing hemagglutinating virus of Japan (HVJ). In this study, we demonstrated that cells of fused hASC cardiomyocytes display a cardiomyocyte phenotype and spontaneous rhythmic contraction and generate an action potential in vitro. As part of the work underlying this paper, we co-cultured rat neonatal cardiomyocytes with hASCs or pig bone marrow-derived mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs), where ASCs or MSCs had previously been transduced with a lentivirus encoding eGFP. Our data evidence early cardiac contractile proteins, such as Titin and MF20, identified in eGFP-positive cells, suggesting a cardiomyogenic phenotype. Recent work by others has shown that the myogenic conversion increased when BMSCs were cultured with apoptotic cells. In this Extra View article, we review the current understanding of stem cell-derived factors, fusion/partial fusion and the manner in which the exchange of cellular contents between stem cells and cardiomyocytes might contribute to the reprogramming of fully differentiated cardiomyocytes based on recently published literature.

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