Regenerating cardiac cells: insights from the bench and the clinic
A major challenge in cardiovascular regenerative medicine is the development of novel therapeutic strategies to restore the function of cardiac muscle in the failing heart. The heart has historically been regarded as a terminally differentiated organ that does not have the potential to regenerate. This concept has been updated by the discovery of cardiac stem and progenitor cells that reside in the adult mammalian heart. Whereas diverse types of adult cardiac stem or progenitor cells have been described, we still do not know whether these cells share a common origin. A better understanding of the physiology of cardiac stem and progenitor cells should advance the successful use of regenerative medicine as a viable therapy for heart disease. In this review, we summarize current knowledge of the various adult cardiac stem and progenitor cell types that have been discovered. We also review clinical trials presently being undertaken with adult stem cells to repair the injured myocardium in patients with coronary artery disease.