Stem cell transplantation is a controversial, yet promising option for a number of areas of the body that need repair or replacement. In fact, adult autologous (as in, using one's own cells) stem cells may be a novel approach for cardiac regeneration after heart attacks. In a closer look at their regenerative function, researchers from Tulane University in Louisiana evaluated the stem cell transplant's effect on the thickness of the heart wall following a heart attack.
To test the hypothesis, the researchers induced heart attacks in 17 pigs by way of an angioplasty balloon and harvested stem cells from the animals' subcutaneous fat tissues (ADSC, adipose derived stem cells). After repairing the hearts, a suspension including the ADSC was injected through the balloon into the heart. After eight weeks, the animals were euthanized and the hearts were removed to measure the left ventricle wall thickness and the density of the corresponding capillaries in four areas: the damaged or infarct area, the healthy myocardium (cardiac muscle), and in two parts of the border zone.
As predicted, the infarct areas of the heart walls in the ADSC group were thicker than in the animals not receiving the injection (5.9 vs. 3.6 millimeters), and the same difference was seen in the border zones (11.2 vs. 8.6 mm). Capillary density in the border zones of the ADSC group was also significantly increased compared to the control group. The healthy myocardium areas showed no significant differences.
"We feel that these results help explain the positive impact of stem cell transplants for heart patients, demonstrating that they do, in fact, work to thicken the heart wall," said Eckhard Alt, M.D., of Tulane University and lead author of the study. "We believe that stem cells from the adipose tissues may be a valuable novel alternative source for helping support cardiac regeneration after
Source:American College of Cardiology