Stem cells in the treatment of cardiovascular disease--an overview

Stem Cell Rev Rep. 2012 Jun;8(2):494-502. doi: 10.1007/s12015-011-9302-2.


CVD irreversibly damage the cardiomyocytes, the heart muscle cells. This loss triggers a cascade of detrimental events, including formation of scar tissue, an overload of blood flow and pressure capacity, the overstretching of viable cardiac cells, leading to heart failure and eventual death. Restoring damaged heart muscle tissue, through repair or regeneration, is a potentially new strategy to treat heart failure and various other CVD. Stem cells are promising new therapeutics for patients with different heart diseases. The remarkable proliferative and differentiation capacity of stem cells promises an unlimited supply of specific cell types including viable functioning heart muscle cells. A crucial issue in designing more rational cell-based therapy approaches for cardiac disease is understanding the mechanisms by which each of the stem cell or progenitor-cell types can affect myocardial performance. This paper will highlight findings of multiple preliminary clinical experiments involving stem cells as therapeutics, educate the reader on the incidence and prevalence of CVD, the risk factors associated with CVD, and explore some of the challenges that can be encountered.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cardiovascular Diseases / epidemiology
  • Cardiovascular Diseases / therapy*
  • Humans
  • Stem Cell Transplantation* / statistics & numerical data
  • Stem Cells / cytology*
  • United States / epidemiology