Stem cell transplant in mouse embryo yields heart protection in adulthood

May 14, 2009

Rochester, Minn. - May 14, 2009 - Stem cells play a role in heart muscle rejuvenation by attracting cells from the body that develop into heart muscle cells. They have been successfully used to halt or reverse cardiac injury following heart attack, but not to prevent injury before it occurs.

A new study that delivered embryonic stem cells to mouse embryos in the earliest stages of development found that the resulting mice demonstrated a capacity to recover from cardiac injury in adulthood. The study, which provides the first evidence that preventive regenerative medicine can successfully be used to treat myocardial infarction through prophylactic intervention, is published in Stem Cells.

Led by Dr. Andre Terzic of the Mayo Clinic, researchers injected mouse embryos with embryonic stem cells that had been used to successfully treat ischemic heart disease following heart attack. The resulting animals incorporated between five and 20 percent of labeled stem cell-derived tissue. They were born with no apparent abnormalities, and the tested and control groups had similar overall baseline cardiac disease risk profiles. They also demonstrated similar cardiac performance during the one year follow-up.

Researchers induced cardiac injury in both groups by tying off the left anterior artery, causing complete coronary blockage. The group that had received the embryonic stem cell treatment recovered cardiac function, while the other group deteriorated, demonstrating ischemic myopathy, myocardial scarring and significant pulmonary congestion, which are typically seen in the progression towards heart failure. Overall, the group treated with stem cells displayed a favorable disease course, with superior exercise workload capacity and stress test performance, as well as increased survival.

"Preemptive stem cell-based intervention in utero thus provides a strategy to engineer tolerance, and prevent incidence of life-threatening organ failure in the adult," the authors state. In utero therapy was introduced 30 years ago to treat congenital defects and has been used successfully since then to improve outcomes after birth, but this study takes the concept one step further.

"In this way, prenatal transplantation of embryonic stem cells expands the scope of traditional retrospective therapy to the previously unexplored prospective protection," the authors note. They conclude that beyond reconstructive surgery, stem cell transplantation in prenatal development could offer an innovative approach for preventing disease.

"This study expands the scope of stem cell therapy including traditional retrospective and preventive cell therapy," says Miodrag Stojković, co-editor of the journal. "Therefore, Stem Cells is very proud to publish this pioneering work which is the very first proof of principle for prevention of adult heart stress intolerance to ischemic injury through preemptive cell based intervention."
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This study is published in Stem Cells. Media wishing to receive a PDF of this article may contact journalnews@bos.blackwellpublishing.net.

Dr. Andre Terzic is a professor in the Departments of Medicine, Molecular Pharmacology and Experimental Therapeutics, and Medical Genetics at the Mayo Clinic. Dr. Terzic can be reached for questions at terzic.andre@mayo.edu.

About Stem Cells

Stem Cells, a peer reviewed journal published monthly, provides a forum for prompt publication of original investigative papers and concise reviews. The journal covers all aspects of stem cells: embryonic stem cells/induced pluripotent stem cells; tissue-specific stem cells; cancer stem cells; the stem cell niche; stem cell epigenetics, genomics and proteomics; and translational and clinical research. For more information, please visit http://www3.interscience.wiley.com/journal/121607285/grouphome/home.html. Stem Cells is co-published by AlphaMed Press and Wiley-Blackwell.

About AlphaMed Press

Established in 1983, AlphaMed Press with offices in Durham, NC and Craigavon, United Kingdom publishes two internationally renowned peer-reviewed journals: Stem Cells®, now in its 27th year, is the world's first journal devoted to this fast paced field of research. The Oncologist® (www.TheOncologist.com), also a monthly peer-reviewed publication, is in its 14th year and is devoted to community and hospital-based oncologists and physicians entrusted with cancer patient care. Both journals are premier periodicals with globally recognized editorial boards dedicated to advancing knowledge and education in their focused disciplines. AlphaMed Press publishes the Stem Cells Portal online (www.StemCellsPortal.com), as well as freestanding monographs and books, and is renowned for its excellence and speed in the publication of the peer-reviewed proceedings of major international symposia. For more information on AlphaMed Press, please visit www.alphamedpress.org.

About Wiley-Blackwell

Wiley-Blackwell was formed in February 2007 as a result of the acquisition of Blackwell Publishing Ltd. by John Wiley & Sons, Inc., and its merger with Wiley's Scientific, Technical, and Medical business. Together, the companies have created a global publishing business with deep strength in every major academic and professional field. Wiley-Blackwell publishes approximately 1,400 scholarly peer-reviewed journals and an extensive collection of books with global appeal. For more information on Wiley-Blackwell, please visit www.wiley-blackwell.com or http://interscience.wiley.com.

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