Mesenchymal stem cells: biology, pathophysiology, translational findings, and therapeutic implications for cardiac disease.
Mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs) are a prototypical adult stem cell with capacity for self-renewal and differentiation with a broad tissue distribution. Initially described in bone marrow, MSCs have the capacity to differentiate into mesoderm- and nonmesoderm-derived tissues. The endogenous role for MSCs is maintenance of stem cell niches (classically the hematopoietic), and as such, MSCs participate in organ homeostasis, wound healing, and successful aging. From a therapeutic perspective, and facilitated by the ease of preparation and immunologic privilege, MSCs are emerging as an extremely promising therapeutic agent for tissue regeneration. Studies in animal models of myocardial infarction have demonstrated the ability of transplanted MSCs to engraft and differentiate into cardiomyocytes and vasculature cells, recruit endogenous cardiac stem cells, and secrete a wide array of paracrine factors. Together, these properties can be harnessed to both prevent and reverse remodeling in the ischemically injured ventricle. In proof-of-concept and phase I clinical trials, MSC therapy improved left ventricular function, induced reverse remodeling, and decreased scar size. This article reviews the current understanding of MSC biology, mechanism of action in cardiac repair, translational findings, and early clinical trial data of MSC therapy for cardiac disease.
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