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AHA: Genetically Engineered Cardiac Stem Cells Show Promise

Mice study: Pim-1 cardiac stem cells help repair myocardial damage and improve cardiac function

WEDNESDAY, July 20 (HealthDay News) -- Genetic engineering of human cardiac stem cells (hCPCs) with Pim-1 is associated with repair of damaged myocardium and improved cardiac function in mice, according to an experimental study presented at the American Heart Association's Basic Cardiovascular Sciences 2011 Scientific Sessions, held from July 18 to 21 in New Orleans.

Sadia Mohsin, Ph.D., from San Diego State University, and colleagues investigated whether Pim-1 engineered hCPCs can improve their long-term persistence in damaged myocardium correlated with augmentation of cardiac function. Human CPCs, positive for the putative stem cell marker c-kit, were isolated from patients undergoing left ventricular assist device implantation and engineered to express a fused green fluorescent protein version of Pim-1 using a lentivirus expression system. The engineered Pim-1 hCPCs were transplanted into immunocompromised mice with myocardial infarction to evaluate the functionality of the cells. Non-modified hCPCs were used as a control.

The investigators found that the mice who received Pim-1 hCPCs exhibited increased hemodynamic performance after 10 weeks, as seen by the rate of rise of left ventricular pressure, left ventricular end diastolic pressure, and left ventricular diastolic pressure measurements. Compared to the control group, the Pim-1 CPC group experienced sustained improvement in cardiac function after 20 weeks as well as increased cellular engraftment, and the persistence and proliferation of hCPCs, in particular a greater number of c-kit+ cells, improved vasculature, and reduced infarct size.

"Genetic engineering of human CPCs with Pim-1 enhances their ability to repair damaged myocardium," the authors write.

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