Combining erythropoietin infusion with intramyocardial delivery of bone marrow cells is more effective for cardiac repair

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We postulated that combining erythropoietin (EPO) infusion with bone marrow mesenchymal stem cells (MSC) delivery may give better prognosis in a rat infarcted heart. Acute myocardial infarction (MI) model was developed by coronary artery ligation. Animals were grouped (n = 18) to receive intramyocardial injection of 30 μl saline solution without cells (EPO and control groups) or with 3 × 106 MSC from transgenic green fluorescent protein (GFP)+ male mice (MSC and MSC-EPO groups). The animals received either 5000 U/kg body weight EPO (EPO and MSC-EPO groups) or saline solution (MSC and control groups) for 7 days after MI. Cardiac functions were measured by echocardiography and cardiac tissue was harvested for immunohistological studies 3 weeks after surgery. We observed regeneration of MSC in and around the infarcted myocardium in MSC and MSC-EPO groups. Capillary density was markedly enhanced with significantly smaller infarct size and reduced fibrotic area in MSC-EPO group as compared with other three groups. A smaller left ventricular (LV) diastolic dimension and a higher LV fractional shortening were observed in MSC-EPO group than in other three groups. Transplantation of MSC combined with cytokine EPO is superior to either of the monotherapy approach for angiomyogenesis and cardiac function recovery.

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