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Stem Cells Transl Med. 2013 Jun;2(6):434-43. doi: 10.5966/sctm.2013-0001. Epub 2013 May 8.

Concise review: heart regeneration and the role of cardiac stem cells.

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Department of Cardiology, University Medical Center Utrecht, Utrecht, The Netherlands.


Acute myocardial infarction leads to irreversible loss of cardiac myocytes, thereby diminishing the pump function of the heart. As a result, the strenuous workload imposed on the remaining cardiac myocytes often gives rise to subsequent cell loss until the vicious circle ends in chronic heart failure (CHF). Thus, we are in need of a therapy that could ameliorate or even reverse the disease progression of CHF. Endogenous regeneration of the mammalian heart has been shown in the neonatal heart, and the discovery that it may still persist in adulthood sparked hope for novel cardioregenerative therapies. As the basis for cardiomyocyte renewal, multipotent cardiac stem/progenitor cells (CSCs) that reside in the heart have been shown to differentiate into cardiac myocytes, smooth muscle cells, and vascular endothelial cells. These CSCs do have the potential to actively regenerate the heart but clearly fail to do so after abundant and segmental loss of cells, such as what occurs with myocardial infarction. Therefore, it is vital to continue research for the most optimal therapy based on the use or in situ stimulation of these CSCs. In this review, we discuss the current status of the cardioregenerative field. In particular, we summarize the current knowledge of CSCs as the regenerative substrate in the adult heart and their use in preclinical and clinical studies to repair the injured myocardium.


Adult stem cells; Cardiac stem/progenitor cell; Self-renewal

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