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Implanting myoblasts derived from autologous skeletal muscle, that is, satellite cells, for myocardial replacement has many advantages when compared with implanting either fetal cardiac myocytes (ethical and donor availability issues) or established cell lines (oncogenicity). Furthermore, autologous myoblasts do not require immunosuppression. The feasibility of satellite cell differentiation into muscle fibers, after implantation into the myocardium, was confirmed by means of a unique cell-labeling technique.


Myoblasts (satellite cells) isolated from the skeletal muscle of adult rats are labeled with 4′,6-diamidino-2-phenylindone, which binds to DNA and to the protein tubulin to form a fluorescent complex, and implanted into the left ventricular wall of isogenic rats. The specimens are harvested 1 to 4 weeks after myoblast implantation. Histologic sections are examined under a fluorescent microscope.


The labeling efficiency of satellite cells with 4′,6-diamidino-2-phenylindole is nearly 100%. In 4 specimens, the progressive differentiation of implanted myoblasts into fully developed striated muscle fibers can be observed.


Our earlier studies of autologous myoblast implantation into the cryoinjured myocardium of dogs suggested that these cells could differentiate into cardiac myocytes. However, it had been difficult to firmly establish these findings with the use of cell markers, thereby proving that the neomyocardium had indeed been derived from the implanted myoblasts. In this study, using 4′,6-diamidino-2-phenylindole as a satellite cell marker, we were able to demonstrate that the implanted satellite cells did in fact differentiate into fully developed, labeled muscle fibers. Because of the obvious advantages of using autologous donor myoblasts, the clinical application of this approach may provide a novel strategy for the future management of heart failure.

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