Background: We investigated whether simultaneous administration of control-released hepatocyte growth factor (HGF) enhances the efficacy of skeletal myoblast (SM) transplantation (Tx) through its antiapoptotic, angiogenic, and antifibrotic effects in myocardial infarction (MI).
Methods and results: Forty-eight Lewis rats with chronic MI were divided into 4 groups. In Group I (n=14), neonatal SMs (5 x 10(6)) were transplanted in the MI area with a gelatin sheet incorporating 40 microg (1 g/L) of HGF applied. Group II (n=14) had SM Tx and placement of a saline sheet. Groups III (n=10) and IV (n=10) had culture medium injection plus HGF and saline sheet application, respectively. Four rats each from Groups I and II were sacrificed at day 1 for TUNEL assay on donor SMs. The percentage of TUNEL-positive donor cells was much lower in Group I than in Group II (P<0.05). At 4 weeks, in Group I, left ventricular diastolic dimension was smallest in echocardiography, end-systolic elastance was highest, and tau was the lowest (both P<0.0005 in ANOVA) in cardiac catheterization. Vascular density inside the graft was higher in Group I than in Group II (P<0.0001). The percentage of fibrotic area inside the graft was smaller in Group I than in Group II (P<0.001). The graft volume as estimated by fast skeletal myosin heavy chain-positive areas was approximately 7-fold larger in Group I than in Group II (P<0.0001).
Conclusions: In SM Tx, HGF can greatly increase the graft volume and vascularity and reduce fibrosis inside the graft, which enhances the efficacy of SM Tx to infarcted hearts.