Regenerative principles enrich cardiac rehabilitation practice

Am J Phys Med Rehabil. 2014 Nov;93(11 Suppl 3):S169-75. doi: 10.1097/PHM.0000000000000147.


Cardiovascular morbidity imposes a high degree of disability and mortality, with limited therapeutic options available in end-stage disease. Integral to standard of care, cardiac rehabilitation aims on improving quality-of-life and prolonging survival. The recent advent of regenerative technologies paves the way for a transformative era in rehabilitation medicine whereby, beyond controlling risk factors and disease progression, the prospect of curative solutions is increasingly tangible. To date, the spectrum of clinical experience in cardiac regenerative medicine relies on stem cell-based therapies delivered to the diseased myocardium either acutely/subacutely, after a coronary event, or in the setting of chronic heart failure. Application of autologous/allogeneic stem cell platforms has established safety and feasibility, with encouraging signals of efficacy. Newer protocols aim to purify cell populations in an attempt to eliminate nonregenerative and enrich for regenerative cell types before use. Most advanced technologies have been developed to isolate resident cell populations directly from the heart or, alternatively, condition cells from noncardiac sources to attain a disease-targeted lineage-specified phenotype for optimized outcome. Because a multiplicity of cell-based technologies has undergone phase I/II evaluation, pivotal trials are currently underway in larger patient populations. Translation of regenerative principles into clinical practice will increasingly involve rehabilitation providers across the continuum of patient care. Regenerative rehabilitation is thus an emerging multidisciplinary field, full of opportunities and ready to be explored.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cardiac Rehabilitation*
  • Cardiovascular Diseases / diagnosis
  • Cardiovascular Diseases / mortality
  • Clinical Trials, Phase I as Topic
  • Clinical Trials, Phase II as Topic
  • Disease Models, Animal
  • Female
  • Forecasting
  • Heart Failure / mortality
  • Heart Failure / rehabilitation
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Myocardial Contraction / physiology
  • Physical and Rehabilitation Medicine / methods*
  • Physical and Rehabilitation Medicine / trends
  • Prognosis
  • Quality of Life
  • Regenerative Medicine / methods*
  • Regenerative Medicine / trends
  • Stem Cell Transplantation / methods*
  • Stem Cell Transplantation / trends
  • Survival Analysis
  • Treatment Outcome