STEM CELL THERAPY IN CARDIOLOGY
Background: Limited options are currently available to treat heart failure caused by loss of cardiomyocytes, and the heart has until recently been considered as an organ with no ability to self-repair. This paradigm of no self-repair, has, however, been challenged during the last few years, as many scientists presently regard the heart as a post-mitotic organ. According to this opinion, stem cells residing in the heart, or stem cells derived from elsewhere, e.g. the bone marrow, might replace a lack of cardiomyocytes. Consequently, cardiac regeneration by stem cells is a promising new therapeutic option. The aim of this paper is to describe the current status of this treatment modality, and to present the future challenges in cardiac stem cell treatment.
Methods: Publications related to “cardiac stem cell treatment for repair of cardiac dysfunction” were searched for in different databases, mainly “Pubmed” and “Medline”. Abstracts and preliminary results presented at various meetings and congresses attended by my supervisor, were also included.
Results: The first clinical trials were successful, but diverse results were reported by the following controlled and randomized trials. Although only few adverse effects of stem cell treatment have been reported, it is probably fair to say that the results so far have not fulfilled the expectations of many scientists. Nevertheless, even larger, double-blinded, randomized, clinical trials are presently conducted. Apart from regeneration of cardiomyocytes after stem cell treatment, other mechanisms of improved cardiac function after stem cell treatment have also been proposed, but the mechanisms involved remain elusive. Accordingly, only further research might delineate the mechanisms of any beneficial effect of cardiac stem cell treatment.