Clinical Benefits of Stem Cells for Chronic Symptomatic Systolic Heart Failure: A Systematic Review of the Existing Data and Ongoing Trials

Cell Transplant. 2016 Nov;25(11):1911-1923. doi: 10.3727/096368916X692087.


The benefits of stem cell therapy for patients with chronic symptomatic systolic heart failure due to ischemic and nonischemic cardiomyopathy (ICM and NICM, respectively) are unclear. We performed a systematic review of major published and ongoing trials of stem cell therapy for systolic heart failure and compared measured clinical outcomes for both types of cardiomyopathy. The majority of the 29 published studies demonstrated clinical benefits of autologous bone marrow-derived mesenchymal stem cells (BM-MSCs). Left ventricular ejection fraction (LVEF) was improved in the majority of trials after therapy. Cell delivery combined with coronary artery bypass grafting was associated with the greatest improvement in LVEF. Left ventricular end-systolic volume (or diameter), New York Heart Association functional classification, quality of life, and exercise capacity were also improved in most studies after cell therapy. Most ICM trials demonstrated a significant improvement in perfusion defects, infarct size, and myocardial viability. Several larger clinical trials that are in progress employ alternative delivery modes, cell types, and longer follow-up periods. Stem cells are a promising therapeutic modality for patients with heart failure due to ICM or NICM. More data are required from larger blinded trials to determine which combination of cell type and delivery mode will yield the most benefit with avoidance of harm in these patient populations.

Keywords: Bone marrow-derived stem cells; Cell therapy; Ischemic cardiomyopathy (ICM); Nonischemic cardiomyopathy (NICM); Stem cells; Systolic heart failure.

Publication types

  • Review
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Cardiomyopathies / physiopathology
  • Cardiomyopathies / therapy
  • Cell- and Tissue-Based Therapy
  • Clinical Trials as Topic
  • Heart Failure, Systolic / pathology
  • Heart Failure, Systolic / therapy*
  • Humans
  • Stem Cell Transplantation*
  • Stem Cells / cytology
  • Stem Cells / metabolism
  • Ventricular Function, Left