Stem cells and heart disease - Brake or accelerator?

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After two decades of intensive research and attempts of clinical translation, stem cell based therapies for cardiac diseases are not getting closer to clinical success. This review tries to unravel the obstacles and focuses on underlying mechanisms as the target for regenerative therapies. At present, the principal outcome in clinical therapy does not reflect experimental evidence. It seems that the scientific obstacle is a lack of integration of knowledge from tissue repair and disease mechanisms. Recent insights from clinical trials delineate mechanisms of stem cell dysfunction and gene defects in repair mechanisms as cause of atherosclerosis and heart disease. These findings require a redirection of current practice of stem cell therapy and a reset using more detailed analysis of stem cell function interfering with disease mechanisms. To accelerate scientific development the authors suggest intensifying unified computational data analysis and shared data knowledge by using open-access data platforms.

Graphical abstract

Missing parts in the puzzle of stem cell based treatments in cardiovascular disease.

Graphical abstract

SC: stem cell; HSC: hematopoietic stem cell; NR/R: non-responder/responder; MSC: mesenchymal stem cell.

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