Indexed on: 24 Mar '07Published on: 24 Mar '07Published in: Cellular and Molecular Life Sciences
The adult heart displays a low proliferation capacity, compromising its function if exposed to distinct biological insults. Interestingly, the observation that an increasing number of cell types display an unpredicted cellular plasticity has opened new therapeutical avenues. In this review we will summarize the current knowledge of non-resident stem cells that can be putatively used for cardiac regeneration. At present, bone marrow stem cells have been extensively studied as a cellular source to heal the heart; however, their myocardial contribution is highly limited. Experimental studies have demonstrated that skeletal myoblasts can engraft into the heart, although, unfortunately, they lead to myocardial uncoupling. Embryonic stem cells can spontaneously generate cardiomyocytes that exhibit a variety of electrophysiological phenotypes. Several constrains should nonetheless be overcome before entering the clinical arena, such as the ability to direct and control the generation of cardiomyocytes into a single myocardial lineage.