Chasing c-Kit through the heart: Taking a broader view

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Abstract

Stem cell mediated cardiac repair is an exciting and controversial area of cardiovascular research that holds the potential to produce novel, revolutionary therapies for the treatment of heart disease. Extensive investigation to define cell types contributing to cardiac formation, homeostasis and regeneration has produced several candidates, including adult cardiac c-Kit+ expressing stem and progenitor cells that have even been employed in a Phase I clinical trial demonstrating safety and feasibility of this therapeutic approach. However, the field of cardiac cell based therapy remains deeply divided due to strong disagreement among researchers and clinicians over which cell types, if any, are the best candidates for these applications. Research models that identify and define specific cardiac cells that effectively contribute to heart repair are urgently needed to resolve this debate. In this review, current c-Kit reporter models are discussed with respect to myocardial c-Kit cell biology and function, and future designs imagined to better represent endogenous myocardial c-Kit expression.

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