Advances in understanding of the maintenance of the cardiac valves during normal cardiac function and response to injury have led to several novel findings, including that there is contribution of extra-cardiac cells to the major cellular population of the valve: the valve interstitial cell (VIC). While suggested to occur in human heart studies, we have been able to experimentally demonstrate, using a mouse model, that cells of bone marrow hematopoietic stem cell origin engraft into the valves and synthesize collagen type I. Based on these initial findings, we sought to further characterize this cell population in terms of its similarity to VICs and begin to elucidate its contribution to valve homeostasis. To accomplish this, chimeric mice whose bone marrow was repopulated with enhanced green fluorescent protein (EGFP) expressing total nucleated bone marrow cells were used to establish a profile of EGFP(+) valve cells in terms of their expression of hematopoietic antigens, progenitor markers, fibroblast- and myofibroblast-related molecules, as well as their distribution within the valves. Using this profile, we show that normal (non-irradiated, non-transplanted) mice have BM-derived cell populations that exhibit identical morphology and phenotype to those observed in transplanted mice. Collectively, our findings establish that the engraftment of bone marrow-derived cells occurs as part of normal valve homeostasis. Further, our efforts demonstrate that the use of myeloablative irradiation, which is commonly employed in studies involving bone marrow transplantation, does not elicit changes in the bone marrow-derived VIC phenotype in recipient mice.
2011 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.