Functional and histopathological improvement of the post-infarcted rat heart upon myoblast cell grafting and relaxin therapy

J Cell Mol Med. 2009 Sep;13(9B):3437-48. doi: 10.1111/j.1582-4934.2008.00503.x. Epub 2008 Sep 15.


Although the myocardium contains progenitor cells potentially capable of regenerating tissue upon lethal ischaemic injury, their actual role in post-infarction heart healing is negligible. Therefore, transplantation of extra-cardiac stem cells is a promising therapeutic approach for post-infarction heart dysfunction. Paracrine cardiotropic factors released by the grafted cells, such as the cardiotropic hormone relaxin (RLX), may beneficially influence remodelling of recipient hearts. The current study was designed to address whether grafting of mouse C2C12 myoblasts, genetically engineered to express green fluorescent protein (C2C12/GFP) or GFP and RLX (C2C12/RLX), are capable of improving long-term heart remodelling in a rat model of surgically induced chronic myocardial infarction. One month after myocardial infarction, rats were treated with either culture medium (controls), or C2C12/GFP cells, or C2C12/RLX cells plus exogenous RLX, or exogenous RLX alone. The therapeutic effects were monitored for 2 further months. Cell transplantation and exogenous RLX improved the main echocardiographic parameters of cardiac function, increased myocardial viability (assessed by positron emission tomography), decreased cardiac sclerosis and myocardial cell apoptosis and increased microvascular density in the post-infarction scar tissue. These effects were maximal upon treatment with C2C12/RLX plus exogenous RLX. These functional and histopathological findings provide further experimental evidence that myoblast cell grafting can improve myocardial performance and survival during post-infarction heart remodelling and dysfunction. Further, this study provides a proof-of-principle to the novel concept that genetically engineered grafted cells can be effectively employed as cell-based vehicles for the local delivery of therapeutic cardiotropic substances, such as RLX, capable of improving adverse heart remodelling.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cell Survival
  • Echocardiography / methods
  • Fibrosis / pathology
  • Gene Expression Regulation*
  • Green Fluorescent Proteins / metabolism
  • Male
  • Mice
  • Myoblasts / metabolism*
  • Myocardial Infarction / pathology*
  • Myocardium / metabolism
  • Rats
  • Rats, Wistar
  • Relaxin / metabolism*
  • Stem Cells / cytology*


  • Green Fluorescent Proteins
  • Relaxin