Stem Cell Therapy for Heart Disease

Does Stem Cell Therapy Work for Heart Disease?

 

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Cardiovascular disease (CVD) accounts for more deaths globally than any other single disease. There are on average 1.5 million episodes of myocardial infarction (heart attack) each year in the United States alone with roughly one-third resulting in death. There is therefore a major need for developing new and effective strategies to promote cardiac repair. Intramyocardial transplantation of mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs) has emerged as a leading contender in the pursuit of clinical intervention and therapy. 

MSCs are potent mediators of cardiac repair and are therefore an attractive tool in the development of preclinical and clinical trials. MSCs are capable of secreting a large array of soluble factors, which have had demonstrated effects on pathogenic cardiac remolding, fibrosis, immune activation, and cardiac stem cell proliferation within the damaged heart. MSCs are also capable of differentiation into cardiomyocytes, endothelial cells, and vascular smooth muscle cells, although the relative contribution of trilineage differentiation and paracrine effectors on cardiac repair remains the subject of active investigation.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Heart disease is the leading cause of death in the United States, causing about 1 in 4 deaths. The term “heart disease” refers to several types of heart conditions. In the United States, the most common type of heart disease is coronary artery disease, heart failure, arrhythmia, high blood pressure and stroke. (1)

 

What are the symptoms of heart disease?

The symptoms may be: 

  • Chest pain
  • Upper back or neck pain
  • Indigestion
  • Heartburn
  • Nausea 
  • Fluttering feelings in the chest (Palpitations)
  • Shortness of breath
  • Fatigue
  • Neck veins.

 

The symptoms of heart diseases vary depending on which condition is affecting the individual. Sometimes heart disease may be “silent” and not diagnosed until a person experiences symptoms of a heart failure or arrhythmia. 

 

What causes heart disease?

 

The causes for heart diseases are primarily by damage to all or part of the heart, damage in the arteries and, lack of nutrients and oxygen to the organ.

 

There are several agents that can increase the risk of heart diseases including:

  • High blood pressure
  • High cholesterol
  • Genetic disposition
  • Smoking
  • Overweight and obesity
  • Diabetes
  • Family history
  • Poor diet/changes in diet
  • Age

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Is stem cell therapy an answer to heart failure?

The use of mesenchymal stem cells has shown to improve the cardiac structure and function, functional capacity and the patient's quality of life, thanks to the properties that stem cells have to reduce fibrosis in the heart. Stem cell therapy has demonstrated to benefit the heart by stimulating the natural regenerative response of the body. 

Administration of mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs) to diseased hearts improves cardiac function and reduces scar size. These effects occur via the stimulation of endogenous repair mechanisms, including regulation of immune responses, tissue perfusion, inhibition of fibrosis, and proliferation of resident cardiac cells. (2)

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The last two decades have witnessed the development of novel regenerative medicine approaches for cardiovascular diseases. However, the ultimate goal of complete repair of the heart in response to damage has yet to be realized.

MSCs have the advantages of a wide range of sources, easy isolation and amplification, and low immunogenicity. In addition, transplanted MSCs can migrate to infarcted myocardial tissue, reduce the inflammatory response, reduce fibrosis, promote the formation of new blood vessels, and differentiate into cardiomyocyte-like cells, ultimately contributing to the repair of infarcted myocardium. (1)

The use of mesenchymal stem cells has shown to improve the cardiac structure and function, functional capacity and the patient's quality of life, thanks to the properties that stem cells have to reduce fibrosis in the heart. Stem cell therapy has demonstrated to benefit the heart by stimulating the natural regenerative response of the body. (3)

References

  1. Mesenchymal Stem Cells: Methods and Protocols, Methods in Molecular Biology, vol. 1416, Chapter 4,  Ian A. White , Cristina Sanina , Wayne Balkan , and Joshua M. Hare  “Mesenchymal Stem Cells in Cardiology”, DOI 10.1007/978-1-4939-3584-0_4, © Springer Science+Business Media New York 2016
  2. Murphy SL, Xu J, Kochanek KD, Arias E. Mortality in the United States, 2017. NCHS data brief, no 328. Hyattsville, MD: National Center for Health Statistics; 2018.
  3. Yajun Guo, Yunsheng Yu, Shijun Hu, Yueqiu Chen and Zhenya Shen1. (2020). The therapeutic potential of mesenchymal stem cells for cardiovascular diseases. Cell Death & Disease, -, 10. 10/07/2021.

 

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