Despite current pharmacologic and whole organ transplantation strategies, advanced heart failure remains a common and deadly disease. Limited availability of donor organs for use in orthotopic heart transplantation has prompted the examination of alternative therapies, including cell transfer strategies. Stem cell populations have been identified in virtually all postnatal tissues with the exception of the heart, and these stem cells function in the maintenance and regeneration of the respective tissues. Recent studies challenge preexisting notions regarding cardiac repair and suggest that the heart is capable of limited regeneration through the activation of resident cardiac stem cells or the recruitment of stem cell populations from other tissues such as the bone marrow. This review highlights animal models that have the capacity for myocardial regeneration and examines potential sources of stem cell populations that may participate in tissue regeneration. While some authors view these cell-based strategies as a Fountain of Youth for the myopathic heart, future studies will decipher the regulatory mechanisms of stem cell populations and serve as a prelude to stem cell-based strategies.
Bibliographical noteFunding Information:
The authors wish to thank Drs. R. Sanders Williams and Eric N. Olson for helpful discussions throughout the preparation of this manuscript. These studies were supported by grants from the NIH (AR47850 and HL049953–12 to DJG), Texas Advanced Technology Development Program (DJG), and the D.W. Reynolds Foundation (DJG).
- Cardiac stem cells
- Cell-based therapies
- Myocardial regeneration
- SP cells