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Cardiovasc Ther. 2018 Dec;36(6):e12479. doi: 10.1111/1755-5922.12479. Epub 2018 Dec 6.

Role of interleukin-7 in fusion of rat bone marrow mesenchymal stem cells with cardiomyocytes in vitro and improvement of cardiac function in vivo.

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Dr. Panjwani Center for Molecular Medicine and Drug Research, International Center for Chemical and Biological Sciences, University of Karachi, Karachi, Pakistan.
Department of Biochemistry, University of Karachi, Karachi, Pakistan.



Mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs) hold significant promise as potential therapeutic candidates following cardiac injury. However, to ensure survival of transplanted cells in ischemic environment, it is beneficial to precondition them with growth factors that play important role in cell survival and proliferation. Aim of this study is to use interleukin-7 (IL-7), a cell survival growth factor, to enhance the potential of rat bone marrow MSCs in terms of cell fusion in vitro and cardiac function in vivo.


Mesenchymal stem cells were transfected with IL-7 gene through retroviral vector. Normal and transfected MSCs were co-cultured with neonatal cardiomyocytes (CMs) and cell fusion was analyzed by flow cytometry and fluorescence microscopy. These MSCs were also transplanted in rat model of myocardial infarction (MI) and changes at tissue level and cardiac function were assessed by histological analysis and echocardiography, respectively.


Co-culture of IL-7 transfected MSCs and CMs showed significantly higher (P < 0.01) number of fused cells as compared to normal MSCs. Histological analysis of hearts transplanted with IL-7 transfected MSCs showed significant reduction (P < 0.001) in infarct size and better preservation (P < 0.001) of left ventricular wall thickness as compared to normal MSCs. Presence of cardiac-specific proteins, α-actinin, and troponin-T showed that the transplanted MSCs were differentiated into cardiomyocytes. Echocardiographic recordings of the experimental group transplanted with transfected MSCs showed significant increase in the ejection fraction and fractional shortening (P < 0.01), and decrease in diastolic and systolic left ventricular internal diameters (P < 0.001) and end systolic and diastolic volumes (P < 0.01 and P < 0.001, respectively).


Interleukin-7 is able to enhance the fusogenic properties of MSCs and improve cardiac function. This improvement may be attributed to the supportive action of IL-7 on cell proliferation and cell survival contributing to the regeneration of damaged myocardium.


cell therapy; cytokine; differentiation; myocardial infarction; survival; transplantation

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