Background. There are several reports that engrafted mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs) stimulate angiogenesis in the ischemic heart, but the mechanism remains controversial. We hypothesize that transplantation of MSCs enhances vascular regeneration through a paracrine action. Methods. A transmural myocardial infarction was created by ligation of the left anterior descending coronary artery in rats. Those with an ejection fraction less than 0.70 1 week after myocardial infarction were included. Autologous MSCs (1 × 107; 0.2 mL) or culture medium (0.2 mL) was injected intramyocardially into the periinfarct zone (50 μL/injection at four sites; n = 20/group). At 2 weeks after transplantation, Western blot analysis was used to assay the paracrine factors and proapoptotic proteins. Echocardiography to assess heart function was performed on additional groups at 8 weeks after implantation. Results. The angiogenic factors basic fibroblast growth factor, vascular endothelial growth factor, and stem cell homing factor (stromal cell-derived factor -1α) increased in the MSC-treated hearts compared with medium-treated hearts. This was accompanied by a downregulation of proapoptotic protein Bax in ischemic myocardium. Similarly, capillary density increased about 40% in MSC-treated hearts compared with medium-treated hearts (p = 0.001). Left ventricular contractility, indicated by fractional shortening, improved in MSC-treated hearts at 2 months after implantation (MSCs: 48.6% ± 19.9%; medium: 18.7% ± 6.4%; p = 0.004). Conclusions. Autologous MSC transplantation attenuates left ventricular remodeling and improves cardiac performance. The major mechanism appears to be paracrine action of the engrafted cells, increasing angiogenesis and cytoprotection.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Pulmonary and Respiratory Medicine
- Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine