Stem Cells in Cardiovascular Disease
Stem cells are cells capable of proliferation, self-renewal, and differentiation into various organ-specific cell types. Stem cells are subclassified based on their species of origin (mice, rat, human), developmental stage of the species (embryonic, fetal, or adult), tissue of origin (hematopoietic, mesenchymal, skeletal, neural), and potential to differentiate into one or more specific types of mature cells (totipotent, pluripotent, multipotent). Embryonic stem (ES) cells are totipotent, primitive cells derived from the embryo that have the potential to become all specialized cell types. Conversely, adult stem cells are undifferentiated cells found in differentiated tissue that retain the potential to renew themselves and differentiate to yield organ-specific tissues. Stem cells are attractive candidates for novel therapeutics for patients with different heart diseases, including congestive heart failure, most commonly caused by myocardial infarction. The remarkable proliferative and differentiation capacity of stem cells promises an almost unlimited supply of specific cell types including viable functioning cardiomyocytes to replace the scarred myocardium following transplantation.
Key WordsStem cells myocardial infarction heart failure therapeutics
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