Combination of cells and genes repairs damaged heart tissues in animal models of MI

June 01, 2016

Putnam Valley, NY. (June 1, 2016) - Researchers at the University of Utah compared the therapeutic potential of umbilical cord-derived sub-epithelial cells (UC-SECs), bone marrow-derived mesenchymal stem cells (BM-MSCs) and induced pluripotent stem cell-derived cardiomyocytes (iPSC-CMs) -- all derived from human tissue -- along with genes (S100a1 and SDF-1a) and growth factor (VEGF165) to evaluate how injected biologics might enhance cardiac function in mice modeled with myocardial infarction (MI; commonly referred to as heart attack). The study revealed a range of beneficial results.

According to study co-author Dr. Amit N. Patel, director of cardiovascular regenerative medicine at the University of Utah and section editor for Cell Transplantation, the use of cell -- and gene-based therapeutics to preserve cardiac function have made considerable advancements over the past several years, with a variety of genes and cells proposed as therapeutic options because they possess multi-potency and therapeutic potential.

"Our goal was to simultaneously compare cells and genes in a pre-clinical ischemic heart model," said Dr. Patel. "The study was a unique approach to using multiple human cell and gene-based therapies and demonstrated that, depending on which aspect of cardiac recovery is being evaluated -- scar remodeling, improvement in contractile function, angiogenesis (new blood vessel growth) or inflammation -- a different biological may be best suited. There were no safety issues related to the biologics, and no gross tumors or other abnormalities on histology."

The study investigated which cells or biologics demonstrated the best results for a number of cardiac-related problems, including cardiac function and scarring. Scarring was of interest, said the researchers, because there is currently no approved therapy to reverse scar formation in the damaged heart or to replace scar tissue with new cardiac muscle cells (cardiomyocytes).

The authors noted that scar remodeling was best addressed by using UC-SECs, yet both S100a1 and SDF1a also demonstrated significant scar reduction when compared to controls and other biologics. Contractile function was most significantly improved by injecting hiPSC-CMs or S100a1 followed by UC-SECs. Angiogenesis was most significant in the group treated with growth factor (VEGF).

"The current study demonstrated that multiple cell types and genes, injected into a mouse model of MI, can positively alter various aspects of cardiac function and scarring for up to 12 weeks post-MI," concluded the researchers. "Future studies should aim to evaluate dose and combination therapies in order to decipher the most clinically applicable treatment."

Dr. Amit N. Patel, Director
Cardiovascular Regenerative Medicine
University of Utah
30 N 1900 E SOM 3c127
Salt Lake City UT 84132
Tel: 801-587-7946
Fax: 801-585-3936

Citation: Winters AA, Bou-Ghannam S, Thorp H, Hawayek JA, Atkinson DL, Bartlett CE, Silva FJ, Hsu EW, Moreno AP, Grainger DA, Patel AN. Evaluation of Multiple Biological Therapies for Ischemic Cardiac Disease. Appeared or available on-line: May 10, 2016.

This study, scheduled to be published later this year in a special cardiovascular issue of Cell Transplantation, is currently freely available on-line as an unedited early e-pub at:

The Co-Editors-in-Chief for CELL TRANSPLANTATION are at the Department of Neurosurgery and Brain Repair, Morsani College of Medicine, University of South Florida, Tampa, FL, USA and the Center for Neuropsychiatry, China Medical University Hospital, TaiChung, Taiwan. Contact: Paul R. Sanberg at, Shinn-Zong Lin at, or Associate Editor Samantha Portis at

Cell Transplantation Center of Excellence for Aging and Brain Repair

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