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Amniotic Stem Cells Promising for Cardiac Regeneration

Can differentiate into cardiomyocytes in murine model, show immunologic tolerance

FRIDAY, May 28 (HealthDay News) -- A type of stem cell derived from amniotic membranes can differentiate into functioning cardiac muscle cells, and is therefore a promising source for cardiac regenerative medicine, according to a rodent study published in the May 28 issue of Circulation Research.

Hiroko Tsuji, M.D., of the Keio University School of Medicine in Tokyo, and colleagues conducted a rat-model study to determine whether human amniotic membrane-derived mesenchymal cells (hAMCs) might be an ideal allograftable stem cell source for cardiac regenerative medicine.

After the researchers established the hAMCs, cardiomyogenic transdifferentiation was induced in vitro, with a differentiation efficiency of 33 percent. Two weeks after myocardial infarction, hAMCs were transplanted, resulting in significantly improved left ventricular fractional shortening as measured by echocardiogram, and a significantly decreased myocardial fibrosis area. In addition, the investigators found that hAMCs directly transplanted into infracted areas of rat myocardium transdifferentiated to cardiomyocytes in situ, and survived without immunologic destruction for more than four weeks.

"Tsuji and colleagues are to be congratulated for their careful work that has brought forward a cell type that may offer the real potential for off-the-shelf cardiac myocyte-based therapy. Their findings further add to our understanding of the mechanisms associated with immune privilege, which is critical as we move forward with allogeneic cell strategies. Finally, their study further demonstrates that the real benefit associated with stem cell therapy remains elusive and we should remain open minded as to the strategies that could lead to improved outcomes in clinical populations," write the authors of an accompanying editorial.

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