Despite the increasing use of stem cells for regenerative-based cardiac therapy, the optimal stem cell population(s) remains in a cloud of uncertainty. In the past decade, the field has witnessed a surge of researchers discovering stem cell populations reported to directly and/or indirectly contribute to cardiac regeneration through processes of cardiomyogenic commitment and/or release of cardioprotective paracrine factors. This review centers upon defining basic biological characteristics of stem cells used for sustaining cardiac integrity during disease and maintenance of communication between the cardiac environment and stem cells. Given the limited successes achieved so far in regenerative therapy, the future requires development of unprecedented concepts involving combinatorial approaches to create and deliver the optimal stem cell(s) that will enhance myocardial healing.
Keywords: adult stem cell; aging; cardiochimera; cardiocluster; commitment; communication; diversity; microenvironment; proliferation; survival.