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J Thorac Cardiovasc Surg. 2014 Sep;148(3):1090-7; discussion 1097-8. doi: 10.1016/j.jtcvs.2014.06.038. Epub 2014 Jun 28.

Tissue-engineered, hydrogel-based endothelial progenitor cell therapy robustly revascularizes ischemic myocardium and preserves ventricular function.

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Division of Cardiovascular Surgery, Department of Surgery, Perelman School of Medicine, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, Pa.
Department of Bioengineering, Rice University, Houston, Tex.
Department of Cardiothoracic Surgery, Stanford University, Stanford, Calif.
Department of Biomedical Engineering, Boston University, Boston, Mass.
Department of Cardiothoracic Surgery, Stanford University, Stanford, Calif. Electronic address:



Cell-based angiogenic therapy for ischemic heart failure has had limited clinical impact, likely related to low cell retention (<1%) and dispersion. We developed a novel, tissue-engineered, hydrogel-based cell-delivery strategy to overcome these limitations and provide prolonged regional retention of myocardial endothelial progenitor cells at high cell dosage.


Endothelial progenitor cells were isolated from Wistar rats and encapsulated in fibrin gels. In vitro viability was quantified using a fluorescent live-dead stain of transgenic enhanced green fluorescent protein(+) endothelial progenitor cells. Endothelial progenitor cell-laden constructs were implanted onto ischemic rat myocardium in a model of acute myocardial infarction (left anterior descending ligation) for 4 weeks. Intramyocardial cell injection (2 × 10(6) endothelial progenitor cells), empty fibrin, and isolated left anterior descending ligation groups served as controls. Hemodynamics were quantified using echocardiography, Doppler flow analysis, and intraventricular pressure-volume analysis. Vasculogenesis and ventricular geometry were quantified. Endothelial progenitor cell migration was analyzed by using endothelial progenitor cells from transgenic enhanced green fluorescent protein(+) rodents.


Endothelial progenitor cells demonstrated an overall 88.7% viability for all matrix and cell conditions investigated after 48 hours. Histologic assessment of 1-week implants demonstrated significant migration of transgenic enhanced green fluorescent protein(+) endothelial progenitor cells from the fibrin matrix to the infarcted myocardium compared with intramyocardial cell injection (28 ± 12.3 cells/high power field vs 2.4 ± 2.1 cells/high power field, P = .0001). We also observed a marked increase in vasculogenesis at the implant site. Significant improvements in ventricular hemodynamics and geometry were present after endothelial progenitor cell-hydrogel therapy compared with control.


We present a tissue-engineered, hydrogel-based endothelial progenitor cell-mediated therapy to enhance cell delivery, cell retention, vasculogenesis, and preservation of myocardial structure and function.

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