Stemming heart failure with cardiac- or reprogrammed-stem cells

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Abstract

Despite extensive efforts to control myocyte growth by genetic targeting of the cell cycle machinery and small molecules for cardiac repair, adult myocytes themselves appeared to divide a limited number of times in response to a variety of cardiac muscle stresses. Rare tissue-resident stem cells are thought to exist in many adult organs that are capable of self-renewal and differentiation and possess a range of actions that are potentially therapeutic. Recent studies suggest that a population of cardiac stem cells (CSCs) is maintained after cardiac development in the adult heart in mammals including human beings; however, homeostatic cardiomyocyte replacement might be stem cell-dependent, and functional myocardial regeneration after cardiac muscle damage is not yet considered as sufficient to fully maintain or reconstitute the cardiovascular system and function. Although it is clear that adult CSCs have limitations in their capabilities to proliferate extensively and differentiate in response to injury in vivo for replenishing mature car-diomyocytes and potentially function as resident stem cells. Transplantation of CSCs expanded ex vivo seems to require an integrated strategy of cell growth-enhancing factor(s) and tissue engineering technologies to support the donor cell survival and subsequent proliferation and differentiation in the host microenvironment. There has been substantial interest regarding the evidence that mammalian fibroblasts can be genetically reprogrammed to induced pluripotent stem (iPS) cells, which closely resemble embryonic stem (ES) cell properties capable of differentiating into functional cardiomyocytes, and these cells may provide an alternative cell source for generating patient-specific CSCs for therapeutic applications.

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