Pediatric Cardiology

, Volume 30, Issue 5, pp 699–709 | Cite as

Stem Cells from In- or Outside of the Heart: Isolation, Characterization, and Potential for Myocardial Tissue Regeneration

  • Willy A. Noort
  • Joost P. G. Sluijter
  • Marie-Jose Goumans
  • Steven A. J. Chamuleau
  • Pieter A. Doevendans
Riley Symposium


Heart failure emerges with a net loss of viable cardiomyocytes, and there is no current therapy to reverse this process to improve long-term cardiac function. Due to a change in viewpoint, that the human heart cannot be considered a terminally differentiated postmitotic organ, incapable of myocardial regeneration, a belief in a new approach for therapy evolved: regenerating the heart. Finding stem cells in the heart capable of replenishing lost cardiomyocytes became a holy grail for research. Heart stem cells were isolated and characterized, originally derived from in- or outside of the heart. Since the endogenous repair potential of the heart following injury is not sufficient, cellular therapy has been performed after myocardial infarction in clinical settings. Clinical therapies performed with autologous skeletal myoblasts, cardiomyocytes, and bone marrow, as well as the animal studies, showed improvements in cardiac function, although the clinical effects are still limited. These findings have stimulated optimism that progression of heart failure might be prevented or even reversed with cell-based therapy. For future research, it will be a challenge to isolate the most potent therapeutic cell with an intrinsic capacity to stimulate regeneration in the heart, by direct participation or by producing paracrine factors.


Stem cells Cellular therapy Regeneration of the heart 



Financial support was provided by a VIDI grant (016.056.319 from the Netherlands Organisation for Scientific Research (NWO), the BSIK programme (Dutch Programme for Tissue Engineering; UGT.6746), and the Netherlands Heart Foundation (2005T102).


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© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  • Willy A. Noort
    • 1
    • 2
  • Joost P. G. Sluijter
    • 1
    • 2
  • Marie-Jose Goumans
    • 3
  • Steven A. J. Chamuleau
    • 1
  • Pieter A. Doevendans
    • 1
    • 2
  1. 1.Division of Heart & Lungs, Department of Cardiology, Laboratory of Experimental CardiologyUniversity Medical Center UtrechtUtrechtThe Netherlands
  2. 2.Interuniversity Cardiology Institute of the NetherlandsUtrechtThe Netherlands
  3. 3.Department of Molecular Cell BiologyLeiden University Medical CenterLeidenThe Netherlands

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