Stem cell transplant in mouse embryo yields heart protection in adulthood

Mouse standingRochester, 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.

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