Transplantations of various stem cells or their progeny have repeatedly improved cardiac performance in animal models of myocardial injury; however, the benefits observed in clinical trials have been generally less consistent. Some of the recognized challenges are poor engraftment of implanted cells and, in the case of human cardiomyocytes, functional immaturity and lack of electrical integration, leading to limited contribution to the heart's contractile activity and increased arrhythmogenic risks. Advances in tissue and genetic engineering techniques are expected to improve the survival and integration of transplanted cells, and to support structural, functional, and bioenergetic recovery of the recipient hearts. Specifically, application of a prefabricated cardiac tissue patch to prevent dilation and to improve pumping efficiency of the infarcted heart offers a promising strategy for making stem cell therapy a clinical reality.
Keywords: biocompatible materials; heart failure; myocardial infarction; myocardium; stem cells.
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