Therapeutic use of stem cells for cardiovascular disease

Clin Transl Med. 2016 Dec;5(1):34. doi: 10.1186/s40169-016-0116-3. Epub 2016 Aug 18.


Stem cell treatments are a desirable therapeutic option to regenerate myocardium and improve cardiac function after myocardial infarction. Several different types of cells have been explored, each with their own benefits and limitations. Induced pluripotent stem cells possess an embryonic-like state and therefore have a high proliferative capacity, but they also pose a risk of teratoma formation. Mesenchymal stem cells have been investigated from both bone marrow and adipose tissue. Their immunomodulatory characteristics may permit the use of allogeneic cells as universal donor cells in the future. Lastly, studies have consistently shown that cardiac stem cells are better able to express markers of cardiogenesis compared to other cell types, as well improve cardiac function. The ideal source of stem cells depends on multiple factors such as the ease of extraction/isolation, effectiveness of engraftment, ability to differentiate into cardiac lineages and effect on cardiac function. Although multiple studies highlight the benefits and limitations of each cell type and reinforce the successful potential use of these cells to regenerate damaged myocardium, more studies are needed to directly compare cells from various sources. It is interesting to note that research using stem cell therapies is also expanding to treat other cardiovascular diseases including non-ischemic cardiomyopathies.

Keywords: Adipose tissue; Bone marrow; Cardiac stem cells; Induced pluripotent stem cells; Mesenchymal stem cells; Myocardial infarction; Stem cell therapy.

Publication types

  • Review