PIM1-minicircle as a therapeutic treatment for myocardial infarction

PLoS One. 2017 Mar 21;12(3):e0173963. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0173963. eCollection 2017.


PIM1, a pro-survival gene encoding a serine/ threonine kinase, influences cell proliferation and survival. Modification of cardiac progenitor cells (CPCs) or cardiomyocytes with PIM1 using a lentivirus-based delivery method showed long-term improved cardiac function after myocardial infarction (MI). However, lentivirus based delivery methods have stringent FDA regulation with respect to clinical trials. To provide an alternative and low risk PIM1 delivery method, this study examined the use of a non-viral modified plasmid-minicircle (MC) as a vehicle to deliver PIM1 into mouse CPCs (mCPCs) in vitro and the myocardium in vivo. MC containing a turbo gfp reporter gene (gfp-MC) was used as a transfection and injection control. PIM1 was subcloned into gfp-MC (PIM1-MC) and then transfected into mCPCs at an efficiency of 29.4±3.7%. PIM1-MC engineered mCPCs (PIM1-mCPCs) exhibit significantly (P<0.05) better survival rate under oxidative treatment. PIM1-mCPCs also exhibit 1.9±0.1 and 2.2±0.2 fold higher cell proliferation at 3 and 5 days post plating, respectively, as compared to gfp-MC transfected mCPCs control. PIM1-MC was injected directly into ten-week old adult FVB female mice hearts in the border zone immediately after MI. Delivery of PIM1 into myocardium was confirmed by GFP+ cardiomyocytes. Mice with PIM1-MC injection showed increased protection compared to gfp-MC injection groups measured by ejection fraction at 3 and 7 days post injury (P = 0.0379 and P = 0.0262 by t-test, respectively). Success of PIM1 delivery and integration into mCPCs in vitro and cardiomyocytes in vivo by MC highlights the possibility of a non-cell based therapeutic approach for treatment of ischemic heart disease and MI.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cell Proliferation
  • Cell Survival
  • Cells, Cultured
  • Disease Models, Animal
  • Female
  • Genetic Therapy / methods*
  • Genetic Vectors
  • Mice
  • Myoblasts, Cardiac / metabolism
  • Myoblasts, Cardiac / pathology
  • Myocardial Infarction / genetics*
  • Myocardial Infarction / physiopathology
  • Myocardial Infarction / therapy*
  • Myocytes, Cardiac / metabolism
  • Myocytes, Cardiac / pathology
  • Plasmids / genetics
  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins c-pim-1 / genetics*
  • Transfection


  • Pim1 protein, mouse
  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins c-pim-1

Grant support

M.A. Sussman is supported by National Institutes of Health grants: R01HL067245, R37HL091102, R01HL105759, R01HL113647, R01HL117163, P01HL085577, R01HL122525, https://www.nih.gov/; Fondation Leducq G00010319, https://www.fondationleducq.org/. The funders had no role in study design, data collection and analysis, decision to publish, or preparation of the manuscript.