Colonizing the heart from the epicardial side.
The clinical use of stem cells, such as bone marrow-derived and, more recently, resident cardiac stem cells, offers great promise for treatment of myocardial infarction and heart failure. The epicardium-derived cells have also attracted attention for their angiogenic paracrine actions and ability to differentiate into cardiomyocytes and vascular cells when activated during cardiac injury. In a recent study, Chong and colleagues have described a distinct population of epicardium-derived mesenchymal stem cells that reside in a perivascular niche of the heart and have a broad multilineage potential. Exploring the therapeutic capacity of these cells will be an exciting future endeavor.
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