Cardiac stem cells: isolation, expansion and experimental use for myocardial regeneration

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Cellular cardiomyoplasty (myogenic cell grafting) is actively being explored as a novel method to regenerate damaged myocardium. The adult human heart contains small populations of indigenous committed cardiac stem cells or multipotent cardiac progenitor cells, identified by their cell-surface expression of c-kit (the receptor for stem cell factor), P-glycoprotein (a member of the multidrug resistance protein family), and Sca-1 (stem cell antigen 1, a mouse hematopoietic stem cell marker) or a Sca-1-like protein. Cardiac stem cells represent a logical source to exploit in cardiac regeneration therapy because, unlike other adult stem cells, they are likely to be intrinsically programmed to generate cardiac tissue in vitro and to increase cardiac tissue viability in vitro. Cardiac stem cell therapy could, therefore, change the fundamental approach to the treatment of heart disease.

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