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1.  Host tissue response in stem cell therapy 
World Journal of Stem Cells  2010;2(4):61-66.
Preclinical and clinical trials of stem cell therapy have been carried out for treating a broad spectrum of diseases using several types of adult stem cells. While encouraging therapeutic results have been obtained, much remains to be investigated regarding the best cell type to use, cell dosage, delivery route, long-term safety, clinical feasibility, and ultimately treatment cost. Logistic aspects of stem cell therapeutics remain an area that requires urgent attention from the medical community. Recent cardiovascular trial studies have demonstrated that growth factors and cytokines derived from the injected stem cells and host tissue appear to contribute largely to the observed therapeutic benefits, indicating that trophic actions rather than the multilineage potential (or stemness) of the administered stem cells may provide the underlying tissue healing power. However, the capacity for trophic factor production can be aberrantly downregulated as seen in human heart disease. Skeletal muscle is a dynamic tissue with an impressive ability to continuously respond to environmental stimuli. Indeed, a relation exists between active skeletal muscle and low cardiovascular risk, highlighting the critical link between the skeletal muscle and cardiovascular systems. Adding to this notion are recent studies showing that stem cells injected into skeletal muscle can rescue the failing rodent heart through activation of the muscle trophic factor network and mobilization of bone marrow multilineage progenitor cells. However, aging and disease can adversely affect the host tissue into which stem cells are injected. A better understanding of the host tissue response in stem cell therapy is necessary to advance the field and bridge the gap between preclinical and clinical findings.
PMCID: PMC2964154  PMID: 21031156
Stem cell therapy; Skeletal muscle; Heart; Growth factor; Cytokine
2.  Host tissue response in stem cell therapy 
World journal of stem cells  2010;2(4):61-66.
Preclinical and clinical trials of stem cell therapy have been carried out for treating a broad spectrum of diseases using several types of adult stem cells. While encouraging therapeutic results have been obtained, much remains to be investigated regarding the best cell type to use, cell dosage, delivery route, long-term safety, clinical feasibility, and ultimately treatment cost. Logistic aspects of stem cell therapeutics remain an area that requires urgent attention from the medical community. Recent cardiovascular trial studies have demonstrated that growth factors and cytokines derived from the injected stem cells and host tissue appear to contribute largely to the observed therapeutic benefits, indicating that trophic actions rather than the multilineage potential (or stemness) of the administered stem cells may provide the underlying tissue healing power. However, the capacity for trophic factor production can be aberrantly downregulated as seen in human heart disease. Skeletal muscle is a dynamic tissue with an impressive ability to continuously respond to environmental stimuli. Indeed, a relation exists between active skeletal muscle and low cardiovascular risk, highlighting the critical link between the skeletal muscle and cardiovascular systems. Adding to this notion are recent studies showing that stem cells injected into skeletal muscle can rescue the failing rodent heart through activation of the muscle trophic factor network and mobilization of bone marrow multilineage progenitor cells. However, aging and disease can adversely affect the host tissue into which stem cells are injected. A better understanding of the host tissue response in stem cell therapy is necessary to advance the field and bridge the gap between preclinical and clinical findings.
PMCID: PMC2964154  PMID: 21031156
Stem cell therapy; Skeletal muscle; Heart; Growth factor; Cytokine
3.  Current Stem Cell Delivery Methods for Myocardial Repair 
BioMed Research International  2012;2013:547902.
Heart failure commonly results from an irreparable damage due to cardiovascular diseases (CVDs), the leading cause of morbidity and mortality in the United States. In recent years, the rapid advancements in stem cell research have garnered much praise for paving the way to novel therapies in reversing myocardial injuries. Cell types currently investigated for cellular delivery include embryonic stem cells (ESCs), induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs), and adult stem cell lineages such as skeletal myoblasts, bone-marrow-derived stem cells (BMSCs), mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs), and cardiac stem cells (CSCs). To engraft these cells into patients' damaged myocardium, a variety of approaches (intramyocardial, transendocardial, transcoronary, venous, intravenous, intracoronary artery and retrograde venous administrations and bioengineered tissue transplantation) have been developed and explored. In this paper, we will discuss the pros and cons of these delivery modalities, the current state of their therapeutic potentials, and a multifaceted evaluation of their reported clinical feasibility, safety, and efficacy. While the issues of optimal delivery approach, the best progenitor stem cell type, the most effective dose, and timing of administration remain to be addressed, we are highly optimistic that stem cell therapy will provide a clinically viable option for myocardial regeneration.
PMCID: PMC3591183  PMID: 23509740
4.  Lost in Translation: What is Limiting Cardiomyoplasty and Can Tissue Engineering Help? 
Heart failure accounts for more deaths in the United States than any other detrimental human pathology. Recently, repairing the heart after seemingly irreversible injury leading to heart failure appears to have come within reach. Cellular cardiomyoplasty, transplanting viable cell alternatives into the diseased myocardium, has emerged as a promising possible solution. Translating this approach from the laboratory to the clinic, however, has been met with several challenges, leaving many questions unanswered. This review assesses the state of investigation of several progenitor cell sources, including induced pluripotent stem cells, embryonic stem cells, bone marrow stem cells, adipose-derived adult stem cells, amniotic fluid stem cells, skeletal muscle progenitors, induced pluripotent stem cells and cardiac progenitors. Several current roadblocks to maximum success are discussed. These include understanding the need for cardiomyocyte differentiation, appreciating the role of paracrine factors, and addressing the low engraftment rates using current techniques. Tissue engineering strategies to address these obstacles and to help maximize cellular cardiomyoplasty success are reviewed.
PMCID: PMC3164232  PMID: 19492979
Progenitor cell; differentiation; paracrine factors; cell delivery; tissue engineering; myocardial infarction
5.  Mesenchymal Stem Cells for Cardiac Regeneration: Translation to Bedside Reality 
Stem Cells International  2012;2012:646038.
Cardiovascular disease (CVD) is the leading cause of death worldwide. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), an estimate of 17.3 million people died from CVDs in 2008 and by 2030, the number of deaths is estimated to reach almost 23.6 million. Despite the development of a variety of treatment options, heart failure management has failed to inhibit myocardial scar formation and replace the lost cardiomyocyte mass with new functional contractile cells. This shortage is complicated by the limited ability of the heart for self-regeneration. Accordingly, novel management approaches have been introduced into the field of cardiovascular research, leading to the evolution of gene- and cell-based therapies. Stem cell-based therapy (aka, cardiomyoplasty) is a rapidly growing alternative for regenerating the damaged myocardium and attenuating ischemic heart disease. However, the optimal cell type to achieve this goal has not been established yet, even after a decade of cardiovascular stem cell research. Mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs) in particular have been extensively investigated as a potential therapeutic approach for cardiac regeneration, due to their distinctive characteristics. In this paper, we focus on the therapeutic applications of MSCs and their transition from the experimental benchside to the clinical bedside.
PMCID: PMC3382381  PMID: 22754578
6.  Present and Future Perspectives on Cell Sheet-Based Myocardial Regeneration Therapy 
BioMed Research International  2013;2013:583912.
Heart failure is a life-threatening disorder worldwide and many papers reported about myocardial regeneration through surgical method induced by LVAD, cellular cardiomyoplasty (cell injection), tissue cardiomyoplasty (bioengineered cardiac graft implantation), in situ engineering (scaffold implantation), and LV restrictive devices. Some of these innovated technologies have been introduced to clinical settings. Especially, cell sheet technology has been developed and has already been introduced to clinical situation. As the first step in development of cell sheet, neonatal cardiomyocyte sheets were established and these sheets showed electrical and histological homogeneous heart-like tissue with contractile ability in vitro and worked as functional heart muscle which has electrical communication with recipient myocardium in small animal heart failure model. Next, as a preclinical study, noncontractile myoblast sheets have been established and these sheets have proved to secrete multiple cytokines such as HGF or VEGF in vitro study. Moreover, in vivo studies using large and small animal heart failure model have been done and myoblast sheets could improve diastolic and systolic performance by cytokine paracrine effect such as angiogenesis, antifibrosis, and stem cell migration. Recently evidenced by these preclinical results, clinical trials using autologous myoblast sheets have been started in ICM and DCM patients and some patients showed LV reverse remodelling, improved symptoms, and exercise tolerance. Recent works demonstrated that iPS cell-derived cardiomyocyte sheet were developed and showed electrical and microstructural homogeneity of heart tissue in vitro, leading to the establishment of proof of concept in small and large animal heart failure model.
PMCID: PMC3867859  PMID: 24369013
7.  Cellular cardiomyoplasty with autologous skeletal myoblasts for ischemic heart disease and heart failure 
Cell transplantation to repair or regenerate injured myocardium is a new frontier in the treatment of cardiovascular disease. Even though it is based on many years of pre-clinical studies, much remains to be understood about this methodology, even as it progresses to the clinic. For example, controversies exist over the specific cells to be used, the dosages needed for tissue repair, how cells will affect the electrical activity of the myocardium, and even whether the cells can improve myocardial function after transplantation — all of which are briefly reviewed here. Autologous skeletal myoblasts appear to be the most well studied and best first generation cells for cardiac repair. Yet cardiocytes and, more recently, stem cells have been proposed as cell sources for this technology. Their advantages and limitations are also discussed. Although cellular cardiomyoplasty (cell transplantation for cardiac repair) shows great pre-clinical promise, its future will heavily depend on conducting carefully controlled, randomized clinical trials with appropriate endpoints. Utilizing biologically active cells provides both an opportunity for tissue repair and the potential for not yet understood outcomes. As with any frontier, many pioneers will attempt to conquer it. But also as with any frontier, there are pitfalls and consequences to be considered that may surpass those of previous endeavors. The future thus requires careful consideration and well-designed trials rather than haste. The promise for cell transplantation is too great to be spoiled by ill-designed attempts that forget to account for the biology of both the cells and the myocardium.
PMCID: PMC59528  PMID: 11806797
cell transplantation; clinical trials; myoblasts; myocardial repair; stem cells
8.  Acute-Phase Serum Amyloid A: An Inflammatory Adipokine and Potential Link between Obesity and Its Metabolic Complications 
PLoS Medicine  2006;3(6):e287.
Obesity is associated with low-grade chronic inflammation, and serum markers of inflammation are independent risk factors for cardiovascular disease (CVD). However, the molecular and cellular mechanisms that link obesity to chronic inflammation and CVD are poorly understood.
Methods and Findings
Acute-phase serum amyloid A (A-SAA) mRNA levels, and A-SAA adipose secretion and serum levels were measured in obese and nonobese individuals, obese participants who underwent weight-loss, and persons treated with the insulin sensitizer rosiglitazone. Inflammation-eliciting activity of A-SAA was investigated in human adipose stromal vascular cells, coronary vascular endothelial cells and a murine monocyte cell line. We demonstrate that A-SAA was highly and selectively expressed in human adipocytes. Moreover, A-SAA mRNA levels and A-SAA secretion from adipose tissue were significantly correlated with body mass index ( r = 0.47; p = 0.028 and r = 0.80; p = 0.0002, respectively). Serum A-SAA levels decreased significantly after weight loss in obese participants ( p = 0.006), as well as in those treated with rosiglitazone ( p = 0.033). The magnitude of the improvement in insulin sensitivity after weight loss was significantly correlated with decreases in serum A-SAA ( r = −0.74; p = 0.034). SAA treatment of vascular endothelial cells and monocytes markedly increased the production of inflammatory cytokines, e.g., interleukin (IL)-6, IL-8, tumor necrosis factor alpha, and monocyte chemoattractant protein-1. In addition, SAA increased basal lipolysis in adipose tissue culture by 47%.
A-SAA is a proinflammatory and lipolytic adipokine in humans. The increased expression of A-SAA by adipocytes in obesity suggests that it may play a critical role in local and systemic inflammation and free fatty acid production and could be a direct link between obesity and its comorbidities, such as insulin resistance and atherosclerosis. Accordingly, improvements in systemic inflammation and insulin resistance with weight loss and rosiglitazone therapy may in part be mediated by decreases in adipocyte A-SAA production.
Editors' Summary
Obesity often alters an individual's overall metabolism, which in turn leads to complications like diabetes, high blood pressure, and an increased risk of cardiovascular disease (disease of the heart and blood vessels, such as stroke or heart attacks). Having established a strong link between inflammation and cardiovascular disease, scientists now think that obesity might cause persistent low-level inflammation, and that this is the reason for the cardiovascular problems seen in many obese people. By better understanding the links between obesity, inflammation, and cardiovascular disease, the hope is that scientists may be able to find medications that can be given to obese people to reduce their risk of heart attacks and strokes.
Why Was This Study Done?
Previous research had suggested that a substance in the blood called A-SAA, which is raised by inflammation, might be a “missing link” between inflammation and cardiovascular disease, since an individual's baseline level of A-SAA is associated with the risk for cardiovascular disease (in other words, the higher the A-SAA, the higher the risk of cardiovascular disease). In the new study, researchers wanted to know whether the reason that obese people have a higher risk of cardiovascular disease is because they have higher blood levels of A-SAA.
What Did the Researchers Do and Find?
They found that obese people had higher levels of A-SAA in their blood. A-SAA appears to be produced in fat cells (or adipocytes) and then released into the blood. Obese people have higher numbers of fat cells, which could by itself account for the higher blood levels of A-SAA, but the researchers also found that the average fat cell from an obese individual produces and secretes higher levels of A-SAA than fat cells from lean individuals. When the researchers studied people who underwent weight loss, they found that A-SAA levels fell in response to weight loss, and this was associated with improvements in their metabolism. They then studied obese individuals who received the diabetes drug rosiglitazone (which is known to reduce inflammation). They found that even though these individuals did not lose weight, their A-SAA levels dropped as their metabolism improved. Trying to get at the mechanisms by which A-SAA might cause inflammation and diabetes, the researchers found that exposure to A-SAA can stimulate the activation of proinflammation molecules in a number of different cells, including blood vessel cells. It can also stimulate cells to break down fat stores and release fats, which could lead to metabolic complications and ultimately contribute to diabetes.
What Do These Findings Mean?
Together with similar results from other studies, the findings here suggest that A-SAA could promote inflammation, and that elevated levels of A-SAA in obese individuals could contribute to the chronic low-level inflammatory state that puts them at higher risk for cardiovascular complications. The authors speculate that drugs that reduce the blood levels of A-SAA might be useful as treatments for obese patients (to lower their risk of heart attacks and strokes). However, as they acknowledge, additional studies are needed to establish that A-SAA is indeed a causal link between obesity and inflammation and whether it plays a major role before it could be considered a promising drug target.
Additional Information.
Please access these Web sites via the online version of this summary at
• MedlinePlus pages on obesity and cardiovascular disease
• US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention pages on obesity and cardiovascular disease
• Wikipedia pages on obesity and cardiovascular disease (note: Wikipedia is a free Internet encyclopedia that anyone can edit)
Higher levels of Acute-phase serum amyloid A (A-SAA), a proinflammatory adipokine, in obese individuals may contribute to the chronic low-level inflammatory state that puts them at higher risk for cardiovascular complications.
PMCID: PMC1472697  PMID: 16737350
9.  Personalized Prediction of Lifetime Benefits with Statin Therapy for Asymptomatic Individuals: A Modeling Study 
PLoS Medicine  2012;9(12):e1001361.
In a modeling study conducted by Myriam Hunink and colleagues, a population-based cohort from Rotterdam is used to predict the possible lifetime benefits of statin therapy, on a personalized basis.
Physicians need to inform asymptomatic individuals about personalized outcomes of statin therapy for primary prevention of cardiovascular disease (CVD). However, current prediction models focus on short-term outcomes and ignore the competing risk of death due to other causes. We aimed to predict the potential lifetime benefits with statin therapy, taking into account competing risks.
Methods and Findings
A microsimulation model based on 5-y follow-up data from the Rotterdam Study, a population-based cohort of individuals aged 55 y and older living in the Ommoord district of Rotterdam, the Netherlands, was used to estimate lifetime outcomes with and without statin therapy. The model was validated in-sample using 10-y follow-up data. We used baseline variables and model output to construct (1) a web-based calculator for gains in total and CVD-free life expectancy and (2) color charts for comparing these gains to the Systematic Coronary Risk Evaluation (SCORE) charts. In 2,428 participants (mean age 67.7 y, 35.5% men), statin therapy increased total life expectancy by 0.3 y (SD 0.2) and CVD-free life expectancy by 0.7 y (SD 0.4). Age, sex, smoking, blood pressure, hypertension, lipids, diabetes, glucose, body mass index, waist-to-hip ratio, and creatinine were included in the calculator. Gains in total and CVD-free life expectancy increased with blood pressure, unfavorable lipid levels, and body mass index after multivariable adjustment. Gains decreased considerably with advancing age, while SCORE 10-y CVD mortality risk increased with age. Twenty-five percent of participants with a low SCORE risk achieved equal or larger gains in CVD-free life expectancy than the median gain in participants with a high SCORE risk.
We developed tools to predict personalized increases in total and CVD-free life expectancy with statin therapy. The predicted gains we found are small. If the underlying model is validated in an independent cohort, the tools may be useful in discussing with patients their individual outcomes with statin therapy.
Please see later in the article for the Editors' Summary
Editors' Summary
Cardiovascular disease (CVD) affects the heart and/or the blood vessels and is a major cause of illness and death worldwide. In the US, for example, coronary heart disease—a CVD in which narrowing of the heart's blood vessels by fatty deposits slows the blood supply to the heart and may eventually cause a heart attack—is the leading cause of death, and stroke—a CVD in which the brain's blood supply is interrupted—is the fourth leading cause of death. Established risk factors for CVD include smoking, high blood pressure, obesity, and high blood levels of a fat called low-density lipoprotein (“bad cholesterol”). Because many of these risk factors can be modified by lifestyle changes and by drugs, CVD can be prevented. Thus, physicians can assess a healthy individual's risk of developing CVD using a CVD prediction model (equations that take into account the CVD risk factors to which the individual is exposed) and can then recommend lifestyle changes and medications to reduce that individual's CVD risk.
Why Was This Study Done?
Current guidelines recommend that asymptomatic (healthy) individuals whose likely CVD risk is high should be encouraged to take statins—cholesterol-lowering drugs—as a preventative measure. Statins help to prevent CVD in healthy people with a high predicted risk of CVD, but, like all medicines, they have some unwanted side effects, so it is important that physicians can communicate both the benefits and drawbacks of statins to their patients in a way that allows them to make an informed decision about taking these drugs. Telling a patient that statins will reduce his or her short-term risk of CVD is not always helpful—patients really need to know the potential lifetime benefits of statin therapy. That is, they need to know how much longer they might live if they take statins. Here, the researchers use a mathematical model to predict the personalized lifetime benefits (increased total and CVD-free life expectancy) of statin therapy for individuals without a history of CVD.
What Did the Researchers Do and Find?
The researchers used the Rotterdam Ischemic Heart Disease & Stroke Computer Simulation (RISC) model, which simulates the life courses of individuals through six health states, from well through to CVD or non-CVD death, to estimate lifetime outcomes with and without statin therapy in a population of healthy elderly individuals. They then used these outcomes and information on baseline risk factors to develop a web-based calculator suitable for personalized prediction of the lifetime benefits of statins in routine clinical practice. The model estimated that statin therapy increases average life expectancy in the study population by 0.3 years and average CVD-free life expectancy by 0.7 years. The gains in total and CVD-free life expectancy associated with statin therapy increased with blood pressure, unfavorable cholesterol levels, and body mass index (an indicator of body fat) but decreased with age. Notably, the web-based calculator predicted that some individuals with a low ten-year CVD risk might achieve a similar or larger gain in CVD-free life expectancy with statin therapy than some individuals with a high ten-year risk. So, for example, both a 55-year-old non-smoking woman with a ten-year CVD mortality risk of 2% (a two in a hundred chance of dying of CVD within ten years) and a 65-year-old male smoker with a ten-year CVD mortality risk of 15% might both gain one year of CVD-free life expectancy with statin therapy.
What Do These Findings Mean?
These findings suggest that statin therapy can lead on average to small gains in total life expectancy and slightly larger gains in CVD-free life expectancy among healthy individuals, and show that life expectancy benefits can be predicted using an individual's risk factor profile. The accuracy and generalizability of these findings is limited by the assumptions included in the model (in particular, the model did not allow for the known side effects of statin therapy) and by the data fed into it—importantly, the risk prediction model needs to be validated using an independent dataset. If future research confirms the findings of this study, the researchers' web-based calculator could provide complementary information to the currently recommended ten-year CVD mortality risk assessment. Whether communication of personalized outcomes will ultimately result in better clinical outcomes remains to be seen, however, because patients may be less likely to choose statin therapy when provided with more information about its likely benefits.
Additional Information
Please access these websites via the online version of this summary at
The web-based calculator for personalized prediction of lifetime benefits with statin therapy is available (after agreement to software license)
The American Heart Association provides information about many types of cardiovascular disease for patients, carers, and professionals, including information about drug therapy for cholesterol and a heart attack risk calculator
The UK National Health Service Choices website provides information about cardiovascular disease and about statins
Information is available from the British Heart Foundation on heart disease and keeping the heart healthy; information is also available on statins, including personal stories about deciding to take statins
The US National Heart Lung and Blood Institute provides information on a wide range of cardiovascular diseases
The European Society of Cardiology's cardiovascular disease risk assessment model (SCORE) is available
MedlinePlus provides links to many other sources of information on heart diseases, vascular diseases, stroke, and statins (in English and Spanish)
PMCID: PMC3531501  PMID: 23300388
10.  Bone marrow and umbilical cord blood human mesenchymal stem cells: state of the art 
Mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs) are multipotent adult stem cells present in all tissues, as part of the perivascular population. As multipotent cells, MSCs can differentiate into different tissues originating from mesoderm ranging from bone and cartilage, to cardiac muscle. MSCs are an excellent candidate for cell therapy because they are easily accessible, their isolation is straightforward, they can be bio-preserved with minimal loss of potency, and they have shown no adverse reactions to allogeneic versus autologous MSCs transplants. Therefore, MSCs are being explored to regenerate damaged tissue and treat inflammation, resulting from cardiovascular disease and myo-cardial infarction (MI), brain and spinal cord injury, stroke, diabetes, cartilage and bone injury, Crohn's disease and graft versus host disease (GvHD). Most of the application and clinical trials involve MSCs from bone marrow (BMMSCs). Transplantation of MSCs from bone marrow is considered safe and has been widely tested in clinical trials of cardiovascular, neurological, and immunological disease with encouraging results. There are examples of MSCs utilization in the repair of kidney, muscle and lung. The cells were also found to promote angiogenesis, and were used in chronic skin wound treatment. Recent studies involve also mesenchymal stem cell transplant from umbilical cord (UCMSCt). One of these demonstrate that UCMSCt may improve symptoms and biochemical values in patients with severe refractory systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE), and therefore this source of MSCs need deeper studies and require more attention. However, also if there are 79 registered clinical trial sites for evaluating MSC therapy throughout the world, it is still a long way to go before using these cells as a routinely applied therapy in clinics.
PMCID: PMC2971538  PMID: 21072260
Umbilical cord blood; mesenchymal stem cells; regenerative medicine; cell therapy; umbilical cord blood banking
Circulation Research  2011;109(12):1415-1428.
Treatment strategies for heart failure remain a high priority for ongoing research due to the profound unmet need in clinical disease coupled with lack of significant translational progress. The underlying issue is the same whether the cause is acute damage, chronic stress from disease, or aging: progressive loss of functional cardiomyocytes and diminished hemodynamic output. To stave off cardiomyocyte losses, a number of strategic approaches have been embraced in recent years involving both molecular and cellular approaches to augment myocardial structure and performance. Resultant excitement surrounding regenerative medicine in the heart has been tempered by realizations that reparative processes in the heart are insufficient to restore damaged myocardium to normal functional capacity and that cellular cardiomyoplasty is hampered by poor survival, proliferation, engraftment and differentiation of the donated population. To overcome these limitations, a combination of molecular and cellular approaches needs to be adopted involving use of genetic engineering to enhance resistance to cell death and increase regenerative capacity. This review will highlight biological properties of approached to potentiate stem cell-mediated regeneration to promote enhanced myocardial regeneration, persistence of donated cells, and long lasting tissue repair. Optimizing cell delivery and harnessing the power of survival signaling cascades for ex vivo genetic modification of stem cells prior to reintroduction into the patient will be critical to enhance the efficacy of cellular cardiomyoplasty. Once this goal is achieved, then cell-based therapy has great promise for treatment of heart failure to combat the loss of cardiac structure and function associated with acute damage, chronic disease or aging.
PMCID: PMC3266718  PMID: 22158649
regeneration; stem cell; infarction; myocardium
12.  Extensive Neuronal Differentiation of Human Neural Stem Cell Grafts in Adult Rat Spinal Cord 
PLoS Medicine  2007;4(2):e39.
Effective treatments for degenerative and traumatic diseases of the nervous system are not currently available. The support or replacement of injured neurons with neural grafts, already an established approach in experimental therapeutics, has been recently invigorated with the addition of neural and embryonic stem-derived precursors as inexhaustible, self-propagating alternatives to fetal tissues. The adult spinal cord, i.e., the site of common devastating injuries and motor neuron disease, has been an especially challenging target for stem cell therapies. In most cases, neural stem cell (NSC) transplants have shown either poor differentiation or a preferential choice of glial lineages.
Methods and Findings
In the present investigation, we grafted NSCs from human fetal spinal cord grown in monolayer into the lumbar cord of normal or injured adult nude rats and observed large-scale differentiation of these cells into neurons that formed axons and synapses and established extensive contacts with host motor neurons. Spinal cord microenvironment appeared to influence fate choice, with centrally located cells taking on a predominant neuronal path, and cells located under the pia membrane persisting as NSCs or presenting with astrocytic phenotypes. Slightly fewer than one-tenth of grafted neurons differentiated into oligodendrocytes. The presence of lesions increased the frequency of astrocytic phenotypes in the white matter.
NSC grafts can show substantial neuronal differentiation in the normal and injured adult spinal cord with good potential of integration into host neural circuits. In view of recent similar findings from other laboratories, the extent of neuronal differentiation observed here disputes the notion of a spinal cord that is constitutively unfavorable to neuronal repair. Restoration of spinal cord circuitry in traumatic and degenerative diseases may be more realistic than previously thought, although major challenges remain, especially with respect to the establishment of neuromuscular connections.
When neural stem cells from human fetal spinal cord were grafted into the lumbar cord of normal or injured adult nude rats, substantial neuronal differentiation was found.
Editors' Summary
Every year, spinal cord injuries, many caused by road traffic accidents, paralyze about 11,000 people in the US. This paralysis occurs because the spinal cord is the main communication highway between the body and the brain. Information from the skin and other sensory organs is transmitted to the brain along the spinal cord by bundles of neurons, nervous system cells that transmit and receive messages. The brain then sends information back down the spinal cord to control movement, breathing, and other bodily functions. The bones of the spine normally protect the spinal cord but, if these are broken or dislocated, the spinal cord can be cut or compressed, which interrupts the information flow. Damage near the top of the spinal cord can paralyze the arms and legs (tetraplegia); damage lower down paralyzes the legs only (paraplegia). Spinal cord injuries also cause many other medical problems, including the loss of bowel and bladder control. Although the deleterious effects of spinal cord injuries can be minimized by quickly immobilizing the patient and using drugs to reduce inflammation, the damaged nerve fibers never regrow. Consequently, spinal cord injury is permanent.
Why Was This Study Done?
Scientists are currently searching for ways to reverse spinal cord damage. One potential approach is to replace the damaged neurons using neural stem cells (NSCs). These cells, which can be isolated from embryos and from some areas of the adult nervous system, are able to develop into all the specialized cells types of the nervous system. However, because most attempts to repair spinal cord damage with NSC transplants have been unsuccessful, many scientists believe that the environment of the spinal cord is unsuitable for nerve regeneration. In this study, the researchers have investigated what happens to NSCs derived from the spinal cord of a human fetus after transplantation into the spinal cord of adult rats.
What Did the Researchers Do and Find?
The researchers injected human NSCs that they had grown in dishes into the spinal cord of intact nude rats (animals that lack a functioning immune system and so do not destroy human cells) and into nude rats whose spinal cord had been damaged at the transplantation site. The survival and fate of the transplanted cells was assessed by staining thin slices of spinal cord with an antibody that binds to a human-specific protein and with antibodies that recognize proteins specific to NSCs, neurons, or other nervous system cells. The researchers report that the human cells survived well in the adult spinal cord of the injured and normal rats and migrated into the gray matter of the spinal cord (which contains neuronal cell bodies) and into the white matter (which contains the long extensions of nerve cells that carry nerve impulses). 75% and 60% of the human cells in the gray and white matter, respectively, contained a neuron-specific protein six months after transplantation but only 10% of those in the membrane surrounding the spinal cord became neurons; the rest developed into astrocytes (another nervous system cell type) or remained as stem cells. Finally, many of the human-derived neurons made the neurotransmitter GABA (one of the chemicals that transfers messages between neurons) and made contacts with host spinal cord neurons.
What Do These Findings Mean?
These findings suggest that human NSC grafts can, after all, develop into neurons (predominantly GABA-producing neurons) in normal and injured adult spinal cord and integrate into the existing spinal cord if the conditions are right. Although these animal experiments suggest that NSC transplants might help people with spinal injuries, they have some important limitations. For example, the spinal cord lesions used here are mild and unlike those seen in human patients. This and the use of nude rats might have reduced the scarring in the damaged spinal cord that is often a major barrier to nerve regeneration. Furthermore, the researchers did not test whether NSC transplants provide functional improvements after spinal cord injury. However, since other researchers have also recently reported that NSCs can grow and develop into neurons in injured adult spinal cord, these new results further strengthen hopes it might eventually be possible to use human NSCs to repair damaged spinal cords.
Additional Information.
Please access these Web sites via the online version of this summary at
The US National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke provides information on spinal cord injury and current spinal cord research
Spinal Research (a UK charity) offers information on spinal cord injury and repair
The US National Spinal Cord Injury Association Web site contains factsheets on spinal cord injuries
MedlinePlus encyclopedia has pages on spinal cord trauma and interactive tutorials on spinal cord injury
The International Society for Stem Cell Research offers information on all sorts of stem cells including NSCs
The US National Human Neural Stem Cell Resource provides information on human NSCs, including the current US government's stance on stem cell research
PMCID: PMC1796906  PMID: 17298165
13.  Mesenchymal Stem Cell: Present Challenges and Prospective Cellular Cardiomyoplasty Approaches for Myocardial Regeneration 
Antioxidants & Redox Signaling  2009;11(8):1841-1855.
Myocardial ischemia and cardiac dysfunction have been known to follow ischemic heart diseases (IHDs). Despite a plethora of conventional treatment options, their efficacies are associated with skepticism. Cell therapies harbor a promising potential for vascular and cardiac repair, which is corroborated by adequate preclinical evidence. The underlying objectives behind cardiac regenerative therapies subsume enhancing angiomyogenesis in the ischemic myocardium, ameliorating cellular apoptosis, regenerating the damaged myocardium, repopulating the lost resident myocardial cells (smooth muscle, cardiomyocyte, and endothelial cells), and finally, decreasing fibrosis with a consequent reduction in ventricular remodeling. Although-cell based cardiomyoplasty approaches have an immense potential, their clinical utilization is limited owing to the increased need for better candidates for cellular cardiomyoplasty, better routes of delivery, appropriate dose for efficient engraftment, and better preconditioning or genetic-modification strategies for the progenitor and stem cells. Mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs) have emerged as powerful candidates in mediating myocardial repair owing to their unique properties of multipotency, transdifferentiation, intercellular connection with the resident cardiomyocytes via connexin 43 (Cx43)-positive gap junctions in the myocardium, and most important, immunomodulation. In this review, we present an in-depth discussion on the complexities associated with stem and progenitor cell therapies, the potential of preclinical approaches involving MSCs for myocardial repair, and an account of the past milestones and ongoing MSC-based trials in humans. Antioxid. Redox Signal. 11, 1841–1855.
PMCID: PMC2848514  PMID: 19260767
14.  Isoform-Specific Potentiation of Stem and Progenitor Cell Engraftment by AML1/RUNX1  
PLoS Medicine  2007;4(5):e172.
AML1/RUNX1 is the most frequently mutated gene in leukaemia and is central to the normal biology of hematopoietic stem and progenitor cells. However, the role of different AML1 isoforms within these primitive compartments is unclear. Here we investigate whether altering relative expression of AML1 isoforms impacts the balance between cell self-renewal and differentiation in vitro and in vivo.
Methods and Findings
The human AML1a isoform encodes a truncated molecule with DNA-binding but no transactivation capacity. We used a retrovirus-based approach to transduce AML1a into primitive haematopoietic cells isolated from the mouse. We observed that enforced AML1a expression increased the competitive engraftment potential of murine long-term reconstituting stem cells with the proportion of AML1a-expressing cells increasing over time in both primary and secondary recipients. Furthermore, AML1a expression dramatically increased primitive and committed progenitor activity in engrafted animals as assessed by long-term culture, cobblestone formation, and colony assays. In contrast, expression of the full-length isoform AML1b abrogated engraftment potential. In vitro, AML1b promoted differentiation while AML1a promoted proliferation of progenitors capable of short-term lymphomyeloid engraftment. Consistent with these findings, the relative abundance of AML1a was highest in the primitive stem/progenitor compartment of human cord blood, and forced expression of AML1a in these cells enhanced maintenance of primitive potential both in vitro and in vivo.
These data demonstrate that the “a” isoform of AML1 has the capacity to potentiate stem and progenitor cell engraftment, both of which are required for successful clinical transplantation. This activity is consistent with its expression pattern in both normal and leukaemic cells. Manipulating the balance of AML1 isoform expression may offer novel therapeutic strategies, exploitable in the contexts of leukaemia and also in cord blood transplantation in adults, in whom stem and progenitor cell numbers are often limiting.
The truncated "a" isoform of AML1 is shown to have the capacity to potentiate stem and progenitor cell engraftment, both of which are required for successful clinical transplantation.
Editors' Summary
Blood contains red blood cells (which carry oxygen round the body), platelets (which help the blood to clot), and white blood cells (which fight off infections). All these cells, which are regularly replaced, are derived from hematopoietic stem cells, blood-forming cells present in the bone marrow. Like all stem cells, hematopoietic stem cells self-renew (reproduce themselves) and produce committed progenitor cells, which develop into mature blood cells in a process called hematopoiesis. Many proteins control hematopoiesis, some of which are called transcription factors; these factors bind to DNA through their DNA-binding domain and then control the expression of genes (that is, how DNA is turned into proteins) through particular parts of the protein (their transcription regulatory domains). An important hematopoietic transcription factor is AML1—a protein first identified because of its involvement in acute myelogenous leukemia (AML, a form of blood cancer). Mutations (changes) in the AML1 gene are now known to be present in other types of leukemia, which are often characterized by overproliferation of immature blood cells.
Why Was This Study Done?
Because of AML1′s crucial role in hematopoiesis, knowing more about which genes it regulates and how its activity is regulated could provide clues to treating leukemia and to improving hematopoietic cell transplantation. Many cancer treatments destroy hematopoietic stem cells, leaving patients vulnerable to infection. Transplants of bone marrow or cord blood (the cord that links mother and baby during pregnancy contains peripheral blood stem cells) can replace the missing cells, but cord blood in particular often contains insufficient stem cells for successful transplantation. It would be useful, therefore, to expand the stem cell content of these tissues before transplantation. In this study, the researchers investigated the effect of AML1 on self-renewal and differentiation of hematopoietic stem and progenitor cells in the laboratory (in vitro) and in animals (in vivo). In particular, they have asked how two isoforms (closely related versions) of AML1 affect the ability of these cells to grow and differentiate (engraft) in mice after transplantation.
What Did the Researchers Do and Find?
The researchers artificially expressed AML1a and AML1b (both isoforms contain a DNA binding domain, but only AML1b has transcription regulatory domains) in mouse hematopoietic stem and progenitor cells and then tested the cells' ability to engraft in mice. AML1a-expressing cells engrafted better than unaltered cells and outgrew unaltered cells when transplanted as a mixture. AML1b-expressing cells, however, did not engraft. In vitro, AML1a-expressing cells grew more than AML1b-expressing cells, whereas differentiation was promoted in AML1b-expressing cells. To investigate whether the isoforms have the same effects in human cells, the researchers measured the amount of AML1a and AML1b mRNA (the template for protein production) made by progenitor cells in human cord blood. Although AML1b (together with AML1c, an isoform with similar characteristics) mRNA predominated in all the progenitor cell types, the relative abundance of AML1a was greatest in the stem and progenitor cells. Furthermore, forced expression of AML1a in these cells improved their ability to divide in vitro and to engraft in mice.
What Do These Findings Mean?
These findings indicate that AML1a expression increases the self-renewal capacity of hematopoietic stem and progenitor cells and consequently improves their ability to engraft in mice, whereas AML1b expression encourages the differentiation of these cell types. These activities are consistent with the expression patterns of the two isoforms in normal hematopoietic cells and in leukemic cells—the mutated AML made by many leukemic cells resembles AML1a. Because the AML1 isoforms were expressed at higher than normal levels in these experiments, the physiological relevance of these findings needs to be confirmed by showing that normal levels of AML1a and AML1b produce similar results. Nevertheless, these results suggest that manipulating the balance of AML1 isoforms made by hematopoietic cells might be useful clinically. In leukemia, a shift toward AML1b expression might slow the proliferation of leukemic cells and encourage their differentiation. Conversely, in cord blood transplantation, a shift toward AML1a expression might improve patient outcomes by expanding the stem and progenitor cell populations.
Additional Information.
Please access these Web sites via the online version of this summary at
Wikipedia has pages on hematopoiesis and hematopoietic stem cells (note: Wikipedia is a free online encyclopedia that anyone can edit; available in several languages)
The US National Cancer Institute has a fact sheet on bone marrow and peripheral blood stem cell transplantation (in English and Spanish) and information for patients and professionals on leukemia (in English)
The American Society of Hematology provides patient information about blood diseases, including information on bone marrow and stem cell transplantation
PMCID: PMC1868041  PMID: 17503961
15.  Human Cardiomyogenesis and the Need for Systems Biology Analysis 
Cardiovascular disease remains the leading cause of death in the Western world and myocardial infarction is one of the primary facets of this disease. The limited natural self-renewal of cardiac muscle following injury and restricted supply of heart transplants has encouraged researchers to investigate other means to stimulate regeneration of damaged myocardium. The plasticity of stem cells toward multiple lineages offers the potential to repair the heart following injury. Embryonic stem cells have been extensively studied for their ability to differentiate into early cardiomyocytes, however the pathway has only been partially defined and inadequate efficiency limits their clinical applicability. Some studies have shown cardiomyogenesis from adult mesenchymal stem cells, from both bone marrow and adipose tissue, but their differentiation pathway remains poorly detailed and these results remain controversial. Despite promising results using stem cells in animal models of cardiac injury, the driving mechanisms behind their differentiation down a cardiomyogenic pathway have yet to be determined. Currently there is a paucity of information regarding cardiomyogenesis on the systems level. Stem cell differentiation results from multiple signaling parameters operating in a tightly regulated spatiotemporal pattern. Investigating this phenomenon from a systems biology perspective could unveil the abstruse mechanisms controlling cardiomyogenesis that would otherwise require extensive in vitro testing.
PMCID: PMC3282989  PMID: 21197666
16.  Multicenter randomized trial of cell therapy in cardiopathies – MiHeart Study 
Trials  2007;8:2.
Cardiovascular diseases are the major cause of death in the world. Current treatments have not been able to reverse this scenario, creating the need for the development of new therapies. Cell therapies have emerged as an alternative for cardiac diseases of distinct causes in experimental animal studies and more recently in clinical trials.
We have designed clinical trials to test for the efficacy of autologous bone marrow derived mononuclear cell therapies in four different cardiopathies: acute and chronic ischemic heart disease, and Chagasic and dilated cardiomyopathy. All trials are multicenter, randomized, double-blind and placebo controlled. In each trial 300 patients will be enrolled and receive optimized therapy for their specific condition. Additionally, half of the patients will receive the autologous bone marrow cells while the other half will receive placebo (saline with 5% autologous serum). For each trial there are specific inclusion and exclusion criteria and the method for cell delivery is intramyocardial for the chronic ischemic heart disease and intracoronary for all others. Primary endpoint for all studies will be the difference in ejection fraction (determined by Simpson's rule) six and twelve months after intervention in relation to the basal ejection fraction. The main hypothesis of this study is that the patients who receive the autologous bone-marrow stem cell implant will have after a 6 month follow-up a mean increase of 5% in absolute left ventricular ejection fraction in comparison with the control group.
Many phase I clinical trials using cell therapy for cardiac diseases have already been performed. The few randomized studies have yielded conflicting results, rendering necessary larger well controlled trials to test for efficacy of cell therapies in cardiopathies.
The trials registration numbers at the NIH registry are the following: Chagasic cardiomyopathy (NCT00349271), dilated cardiomyopathy (NCT00333827), acute myocardial infarction (NCT00350766) and Chronic Ischemic Heart Disease (NCT00362388).
PMCID: PMC1783861  PMID: 17233910
17.  Limbal Stem Cell Transplantation 
Executive Summary
The objective of this analysis is to systematically review limbal stem cell transplantation (LSCT) for the treatment of patients with limbal stem cell deficiency (LSCD). This evidence-based analysis reviews LSCT as a primary treatment for nonpterygium LSCD conditions, and LSCT as an adjuvant therapy to excision for the treatment of pterygium.
Clinical Need: Condition and Target Population
The outer surface of the eye is covered by 2 distinct cell layers: the corneal epithelial layer that overlies the cornea, and the conjunctival epithelial layer that overlies the sclera. These cell types are separated by a transitional zone known as the limbus. The corneal epithelial cells are renewed every 3 to 10 days by a population of stem cells located in the limbus.
Nonpterygium Limbal Stem Cell Deficiency
When the limbal stem cells are depleted or destroyed, LSCD develops. In LSCD, the conjunctival epithelium migrates onto the cornea (a process called conjunctivalization), resulting in a thickened, irregular, unstable corneal surface that is prone to defects, ulceration, corneal scarring, vascularization, and opacity. Patients experience symptoms including severe irritation, discomfort, photophobia, tearing, blepharospasm, chronic inflammation and redness, and severely decreased vision.
Depending on the degree of limbal stem cell loss, LSCD may be total (diffuse) or partial (local). In total LSCD, the limbal stem cell population is completed destroyed and conjunctival epithelium covers the entire cornea. In partial LSCD, some areas of the limbus are unharmed, and the corresponding areas on the cornea maintain phenotypically normal corneal epithelium.
Confirmation of the presence of conjunctivalization is necessary for LSCD diagnosis as the other characteristics and symptoms are nonspecific and indicate a variety of diseases. The definitive test for LSCD is impression cytology, which detects the presence of conjunctival epithelium and its goblet cells on the cornea. However, in the opinion of a corneal expert, diagnosis is often based on clinical assessment, and in the expert’s opinion, it is unclear whether impression cytology is more accurate and reliable than clinical assessment, especially for patients with severe LSCD.
The incidence of LSCD is not well understood. A variety of underlying disorders are associated with LSCD including chemical or thermal injuries, ultraviolet and ionizing radiation, Stevens-Johnson syndrome, multiple surgeries or cryotherapies, contact lens wear, extensive microbial infection, advanced ocular cicatricial pemphigoid, and aniridia. In addition, some LSCD cases are idiopathic. These conditions are uncommon (e.g., the prevalence of aniridia ranges from 1 in 40,000 to 1 in 100,000 people).
Pterygium is a wing-shaped fibrovascular tissue growth from the conjunctiva onto the cornea. Pterygium is the result of partial LSCD caused by localized ultraviolet damage to limbal stem cells. As the pterygium invades the cornea, it may cause irregular astigmatism, loss of visual acuity, chronic irritation, recurrent inflammation, double vision, and impaired ocular motility.
Pterygium occurs worldwide. Incidence and prevalence rates are highest in the “pterygium belt,” which ranges from 30 degrees north to 30 degrees south of the equator, and lower prevalence rates are found at latitudes greater than 40 degrees. The prevalence of pterygium for Caucasians residing in urban, temperate climates is estimated at 1.2%.
Existing Treatments Other Than Technology Being Reviewed
Nonpterygium Limbal Stem Cell Deficiency
In total LSCD, a patient’s limbal stem cells are completely depleted, so any successful treatment must include new stem cells. Autologous oral mucosal epithelium transplantation has been proposed as an alternative to LSCT. However, this procedure is investigational, and there is very limited level 4c evidence1 to support this technique (fewer than 20 eyes examined in 4 case series and 1 case report).
For patients with partial LSCD, treatment may not be necessary if their visual axis is not affected. However, if the visual axis is conjunctivalized, several disease management options exist including repeated mechanical debridement of the abnormal epithelium; intensive, nonpreserved lubrication; bandage contact lenses; autologous serum eye drops; other investigational medical treatments; and transplantation of an amniotic membrane inlay. However, these are all disease management treatments; LSCT is the only curative option.
The primary treatment for pterygium is surgical excision. However, recurrence is a common problem after excision using the bare sclera technique: reported recurrence rates range from 24% to 89%. Thus, a variety of adjuvant therapies have been used to reduce the risk of pterygium recurrence including LSCT, amniotic membrane transplantation (AMT), conjunctival autologous (CAU) transplantation, and mitomycin C (MMC, an antimetabolite drug).
New Technology Being Reviewed
To successfully treat LSCD, the limbal stem cell population must be repopulated. To achieve this, 4 LSCT procedures have been developed: conjunctival-limbal autologous (CLAU) transplantation; living-related conjunctival-limbal allogeneic (lr-CLAL) transplantation; keratolimbal allogeneic (KLAL) transplantation; and ex vivo expansion of limbal stem cells transplantation. Since the ex vivo expansion of limbal stem cells transplantation procedure is considered experimental, it has been excluded from the systematic review. These procedures vary by the source of donor cells and the amount of limbal tissue used. For CLAU transplants, limbal stem cells are obtained from the patient’s healthy eye. For lr-CLAL and KLAL transplants, stem cells are obtained from living-related and cadaveric donor eyes, respectively.
In CLAU and lr-CLAL transplants, 2 to 4 limbal grafts are removed from the superior and inferior limbus of the donor eye. In KLAL transplants, the entire limbus from the donor eye is used.
The recipient eye is prepared by removing the abnormal conjunctival and scar tissue. An incision is made into the conjunctival tissue into which the graft is placed, and the graft is then secured to the neighbouring limbal and scleral tissue with sutures. Some LSCT protocols include concurrent transplantation of an amniotic membrane onto the cornea.
Regulatory Status
Health Canada does not require premarket licensure for stem cells. However, they are subject to Health Canada’s clinical trial regulations until the procedure is considered accepted transplantation practice, at which time it will be covered by the Safety of Human Cells, Tissues and Organs for Transplantation Regulations (CTO Regulations).
Review Strategy
The Medical Advisory Secretariat systematically reviewed the literature to assess the effectiveness and safety of LSCT for the treatment of patients with nonpterygium LSCD and pterygium. A comprehensive search method was used to retrieve English-language journal articles from selected databases.
The GRADE approach was used to systematically and explicitly evaluate the quality of evidence and strength of recommendations.
Summary of Findings
Nonpterygium Limbal Stem Cell Deficiency
The search identified 873 citations published between January 1, 2000, and March 31, 2008. Nine studies met the inclusion criteria, and 1 additional citation was identified through a bibliography review. The review included 10 case series (3 prospective and 7 retrospective).
Patients who received autologous transplants (i.e., CLAU) achieved significantly better long-term corneal surface results compared with patients who received allogeneic transplants (lr-CLAL, P< .001; KLAL, P< .001). There was no significant difference in corneal surface outcomes between the allogeneic transplant options, lr-CLAL and KLAL (P = .328). However, human leukocyte antigen matching and systemic immunosuppression may improve the outcome of lr-CLAL compared with KLAL. Regardless of graft type, patients with Stevens-Johnson syndrome had poorer long-term corneal surface outcomes.
Concurrent AMT was associated with poorer long-term corneal surface improvements. When the effect of the AMT was removed, the difference between autologous and allogeneic transplants was much smaller.
Patients who received CLAU transplants had a significantly higher rate of visual acuity improvements compared with those who received lr-CLAL transplants (P = .002). However, to achieve adequate improvements in vision, patients with deep corneal scarring will require a corneal transplant several months after the LSCT.
No donor eye complications were observed.
Epithelial rejection and microbial keratitis were the most common long-term complications associated with LSCT (complications occurred in 6%–15% of transplantations). These complications can result in graft failure, so patients should be monitored regularly following LSCT.
The search yielded 152 citations published between January 1, 2000 and May 16, 2008. Six randomized controlled trials (RCTs) that evaluated LSCT as an adjuvant therapy for the treatment of pterygium met the inclusion criteria and were included in the review.
Limbal stem cell transplantation was compared with CAU, AMT, and MMC. The results showed that CLAU significantly reduced the risk of pterygium recurrence compared with CAU (relative risk [RR], 0.09; 95% confidence interval [CI], 0.01–0.69; P = .02). CLAU reduced the risk of pterygium recurrence for primary pterygium compared with MMC, but this comparison did not reach statistical significance (RR, 0.48; 95% CI, 0.21–1.10; P = .08). Both AMT and CLAU had similar low rates of recurrence (2 recurrences in 43 patients and 4 in 46, respectively), and the RR was not significant (RR, 1.88; 95% CI, 0.37–9.5; P = .45). Since sample sizes in the included studies were small, failure to detect a significant difference between LSCT and AMT or MMC could be the result of type II error. Limbal stem cell transplantation as an adjuvant to excision is a relatively safe procedure as long-term complications were rare (< 2%).
GRADE Quality of Evidence
Nonpterygium Limbal Stem Cell Deficiency
The evidence for the analyses related to nonpterygium LSCD was based on 3 prospective and 7 retrospective case series. Thus, the GRADE quality of evidence is very low, and any estimate of effect is very uncertain.
The analyses examining LSCT as an adjuvant treatment option for pterygium were based on 6 RCTs. The quality of evidence for the overall body of evidence for each treatment option comparison was assessed using the GRADE approach. In each of the comparisons, the quality of evidence was downgraded due to serious or very serious limitations in study quality (individual study quality was assessed using the Jadad scale, and an assessment of allocation concealment and the degree of loss to follow-up), which resulted in low- to moderate-quality GRADE evidence ratings (low-quality evidence for the CLAU and AMT and CLAU and MMC comparisons, and moderate-quality evidence for the CLAU and CAU comparison).
Ontario Health System Impact Analysis
Nonpterygium Limbal Stem Cell Deficiency
Since 1999, Ontario’s out-of-country (OOC) program has approved and reimbursed 8 patients for LSCTs and 1 patient for LSCT consultations. Similarly, most Canadian provinces have covered OOC or out-of-province LSCTs. Several corneal experts in Ontario have the expertise to perform LSCTs.
As there are no standard guidelines for LSCT, patients who receive transplants OOC may not receive care aligned with the best evidence. To date, many of the patients from Ontario who received OOC LSCTs received concurrent AMTs, and the evidence from this analysis questions the use of this procedure. In addition, 1 patient received a cultured LSCT, a procedure that is considered investigational. Many patients with LSCD have bilateral disease and therefore require allogeneic transplants. These patients will require systemic and topical immunosuppression for several years after the transplant, perhaps indefinitely. Thus, systemic side effects associated with immunosuppression are a potential concern, and patients must be monitored regularly.
Amniotic membrane transplantation is a common addition to many ocular surface reconstruction procedures, including LSCT. Amniotic membranes are recovered from human placentas from planned, uneventful caesarean sections. Before use, serological screening of the donor’s blood should be conducted. However, there is still a theoretical risk of disease transmission associated with this procedure.
Financial Impact
For the patients who were reimbursed for OOC LSCTs, the average cost of LSCT per eye was $18,735.20 Cdn (range, $8,219.54–$33,933.32). However, the actual cost per patient is much higher as these costs do not include consultations and follow-up visits, multiple LSCTs, and any additional procedures (e.g., corneal transplants) received during the course of treatment OOC. When these additional costs were considered, the average cost per patient was $57,583 Cdn (range, $8,219.54–$130,628.20).
The estimated average total cost per patient for performing LSCT in Ontario is $2,291.48 Cdn (range, $951.48–$4,538.48) including hospital and physician fees. This cost is based on the assumption that LSCT is technically similar to a corneal transplant, an assumption which needs to be verified. The cost does not include corneal transplantations, which some proportion of patients receiving a LSCT will require within several months of the limbal transplant.
Pterygium recurrence rates after surgical excision are high, ranging from 24% to 89%. However, according to clinical experts, the rate of recurrence is low in Ontario. While there is evidence that the prevalence of pterygium is higher in the “pterygium belt,” there was no evidence to suggest different recurrence rates or disease severity by location or climate.
Nonpterygium Limbal Stem Cell Deficiency
Successful LSCTs result in corneal re-epithelialization and improved vision in patients with LSCD. However, patients who received concurrent AMT had poorer long-term corneal surface improvements. Conjunctival-limbal autologous transplantation is the treatment option of choice, but if it is not possible, living-related or cadaveric allogeneic transplants can be used. The benefits of LSCT outweigh the risks and burdens, as shown in Executive Summary Table 1. According to GRADE, these recommendations are strong with low- to very low-quality evidence.
Benefits, Risks, and Burdens – Nonpterygium Limbal Stem Cell Deficiency
Short- and long-term improvement in corneal surface (stable, normal corneal epithelium and decreased vascularization and opacity)
Improvement in vision (visual acuity and functional vision)
Long-term complications are experienced by 8% to 16% of patients
Risks associated with long-term immunosuppression for recipients of allogeneic grafts
Potential risk of induced LSCD in donor eyes
High cost of treatment (average cost per patient via OOC program is $57,583; estimated cost of procedure in Ontario is $2,291.48)
Costs are expressed in Canadian dollars.
GRADE of recommendation: Strong recommendation, low-quality or very low-quality evidence
benefits clearly outweigh risks and burdens
case series studies
strong, but may change if higher-quality evidence becomes available
Conjunctival-limbal autologous transplantations significantly reduced the risk of pterygium recurrence compared with CAU. No other comparison yielded statistically significant results, but CLAU reduced the risk of recurrence compared with MMC. However, the benefit of LSCT in Ontario is uncertain as the severity and recurrence of pterygium in Ontario is unknown. The complication rates suggest that CLAU is a safe treatment option to prevent the recurrence of pterygium. According to GRADE, given the balance of the benefits, risks, and burdens, the recommendations are very weak with moderate quality evidence, as shown in Executive Summary Table 2.
Benefits, Risks, and Burdens – Pterygium
Reduced recurrence; however, if recurrence is low in Ontario, this benefit might be minimal
Long-term complications rare
Increased cost
GRADE of recommendation: Very weak recommendations, moderate quality evidence.
uncertainty in the estimates of benefits, risks, and burden; benefits, risks, and burden may be closely balanced
very weak, other alternatives may be equally reasonable
PMCID: PMC3377549  PMID: 23074512
18.  Challenges for heart disease stem cell therapy 
Cardiovascular diseases (CVDs) are the leading cause of death worldwide. The use of stem cells to improve recovery of the injured heart after myocardial infarction (MI) is an important emerging therapeutic strategy. However, recent reviews of clinical trials of stem cell therapy for MI and ischemic heart disease recovery report that less than half of the trials found only small improvements in cardiac function. In clinical trials, bone marrow, peripheral blood, or umbilical cord blood cells were used as the source of stem cells delivered by intracoronary infusion. Some trials administered only a stem cell mobilizing agent that recruits endogenous sources of stem cells. Important challenges to improve the effectiveness of stem cell therapy for CVD include: (1) improved identification, recruitment, and expansion of autologous stem cells; (2) identification of mobilizing and homing agents that increase recruitment; and (3) development of strategies to improve stem cell survival and engraftment of both endogenous and exogenous sources of stem cells. This review is an overview of stem cell therapy for CVD and discusses the challenges these three areas present for maximum optimization of the efficacy of stem cell therapy for heart disease, and new strategies in progress.
PMCID: PMC3295632  PMID: 22399855
mobilization; expansion; homing; survival; engraftment
19.  Cellular Therapy for Repair of Cardiac Damage after Acute Myocardial Infarction 
Cardiovascular diseases, particularly acute myocardial infarction, are the leading causes of death worldwide. Important advances have been made in the secondary treatment for cardiovascular diseases such as heart transplantation and medical and surgical therapies. Although these therapies alleviate symptoms, and may even improve survival, none can reverse the disease process and directly repair the lasting damage. Thus, the cure of cardiovascular diseases remains a major unmet medical need. Recently, cellular therapy has been proposed as a candidate treatment for this. Many stem and progenitor cell populations have each been suggested as a potential basis for such therapy. This review assesses some of the more notable exogenous adult cell candidates and provides insights into the mechanisms by which they may mediate improvement in cardiac function following acute myocardial infarction. Research into the cellular therapy field is of great importance for the further planning of clinical trials for cardiac cellular myoplasty.
PMCID: PMC2809316  PMID: 20130765
20.  Therapeutic Application of Cardiac Stem Cells and Other Cell Types 
BioMed Research International  2013;2013:736815.
Various researches on regenerative medicine were carried out experimentally, and selected modalities have been introduced to the clinical arena. Meanwhile, the presence of resident stem cells in the heart and their role in physiological cell turnover were demonstrated. So far skeletal myoblasts, bone marrow-derived cells, mesenchymal stromal cells, and resident cardiac cells have been applied for therapeutic myocardial regeneration. Among them, autologous transplantation of c-kit-positive cardiac stem cells in congestive heart failure patients resulted in an outstanding outcome, with long-lasting beneficial effects without major adverse events. By reviewing these clinical trials, an endeavor was made to seek for an ideal cellular therapy for cardiovascular diseases.
PMCID: PMC3708396  PMID: 23878816
21.  Erectile Dysfunction Severity as a Risk Marker for Cardiovascular Disease Hospitalisation and All-Cause Mortality: A Prospective Cohort Study 
PLoS Medicine  2013;10(1):e1001372.
In a prospective Australian population-based study linking questionnaire data from 2006–2009 with hospitalisation and death data to June 2010 for 95,038 men aged ≥45 years, Banks and colleagues found that more severe erectile dysfunction was associated with higher risk of cardiovascular disease.
Erectile dysfunction is an emerging risk marker for future cardiovascular disease (CVD) events; however, evidence on dose response and specific CVD outcomes is limited. This study investigates the relationship between severity of erectile dysfunction and specific CVD outcomes.
Methods and Findings
We conducted a prospective population-based Australian study (the 45 and Up Study) linking questionnaire data from 2006–2009 with hospitalisation and death data to 30 June and 31 Dec 2010 respectively for 95,038 men aged ≥45 y. Cox proportional hazards models were used to examine the relationship of reported severity of erectile dysfunction to all-cause mortality and first CVD-related hospitalisation since baseline in men with and without previous CVD, adjusting for age, smoking, alcohol consumption, marital status, income, education, physical activity, body mass index, diabetes, and hypertension and/or hypercholesterolaemia treatment. There were 7,855 incident admissions for CVD and 2,304 deaths during follow-up (mean time from recruitment, 2.2 y for CVD admission and 2.8 y for mortality). Risks of CVD and death increased steadily with severity of erectile dysfunction. Among men without previous CVD, those with severe versus no erectile dysfunction had significantly increased risks of ischaemic heart disease (adjusted relative risk [RR] = 1.60, 95% CI 1.31–1.95), heart failure (8.00, 2.64–24.2), peripheral vascular disease (1.92, 1.12–3.29), “other” CVD (1.26, 1.05–1.51), all CVD combined (1.35, 1.19–1.53), and all-cause mortality (1.93, 1.52–2.44). For men with previous CVD, corresponding RRs (95% CI) were 1.70 (1.46–1.98), 4.40 (2.64–7.33), 2.46 (1.63–3.70), 1.40 (1.21–1.63), 1.64 (1.48–1.81), and 2.37 (1.87–3.01), respectively. Among men without previous CVD, RRs of more specific CVDs increased significantly with severe versus no erectile dysfunction, including acute myocardial infarction (1.66, 1.22–2.26), atrioventricular and left bundle branch block (6.62, 1.86–23.56), and (peripheral) atherosclerosis (2.47, 1.18–5.15), with no significant difference in risk for conditions such as primary hypertension (0.61, 0.16–2.35) and intracerebral haemorrhage (0.78, 0.20–2.97).
These findings give support for CVD risk assessment in men with erectile dysfunction who have not already undergone assessment. The utility of erectile dysfunction as a clinical risk prediction tool requires specific testing.
Please see later in the article for the Editors' Summary
Editors' Summary
Erectile dysfunction is the medical term used when a man is unable to achieve or sustain an erection of his penis suitable for sexual intercourse. Although a sensitive topic that can cause much embarrassment and distress, erectile dysfunction is very common, with an estimated 40% of men over the age of 40 years experiencing frequent or occasional difficulties. The most common causes of erectile dysfunction are medications, chronic illnesses such as diabetes, and drinking too much alcohol. Stress and mental health problems can also cause or worsen erectile dysfunction. There is also increasing evidence that erectile dysfunction may actually be a symptom of cardiovascular disease—a leading cause of death worldwide—as erectile dysfunction could indicate a problem with blood vessels or poor blood flow commonly associated with cardiovascular disease.
Why Was This Study Done?
Although previous studies have suggested that erectile dysfunction can serve as a marker for cardiovascular disease in men not previously diagnosed with the condition, few studies to date have investigated whether erectile dysfunction could also indicate worsening disease in men already diagnosed with cardiovascular disease. In addition, previous studies have typically been small and have not graded the severity of erectile dysfunction or investigated the specific types of cardiovascular disease associated with erectile dysfunction. In this large study conducted in Australia, the researchers investigated the relationship of the severity of erectile dysfunction with a range of cardiovascular disease outcomes among men with and without a previous diagnosis of cardiovascular disease.
What Did the Researchers Do and Find?
The researchers used information from the established 45 and Up Study, a large cohort study that includes 123,775 men aged 45 and over, selected at random from the general population of New South Wales, a large region of Australia. A total of 95,038 men were included in this analysis. The male participants completed a postal questionnaire that included a question on erectile functioning, which allowed the researchers to define erectile dysfunction as none, mild, moderate, or severe. Using information captured in the New South Wales Admitted Patient Data Collection—a complete record of all public and private hospital admissions, including the reasons for admission and the clinical diagnosis—and the government death register, the researchers were able to determine health outcomes of all study participants. They then used a statistical model to estimate hospital admissions for cardiovascular disease events for different levels of erectile dysfunction.
The researchers found that the rates of severe erectile dysfunction among study participants were 2.2% for men aged 45–54 years, 6.8% for men aged 55–64 years, 20.2% for men aged 65–74 years, 50.0% for men aged 75–84 years, and 75.4% for men aged 85 years and over. During the study period, the researchers recorded 7,855 hospital admissions related to cardiovascular disease and 2,304 deaths. The researchers found that among men without previous cardiovascular disease, those with severe erectile dysfunction were more likely to develop ischemic heart disease (risk 1.60), heart failure (risk 8.00), peripheral vascular disease (risk 1.92), and other causes of cardiovascular disease (risk 1.26) than men without erectile dysfunction. The risks of heart attacks and heart conduction problems were also increased (1.66 and 6.62, respectively). Furthermore, the combined risk of all cardiovascular disease outcomes was 1.35, and the overall risk of death was also higher (risk 1.93) in these men. The researchers found that these increased risks were similar in men with erectile dysfunction who had previously been diagnosed with cardiovascular disease.
What Do These Findings Mean?
These findings suggest that compared to men without erectile dysfunction, there is an increasing risk of ischemic heart disease, peripheral vascular disease, and death from all causes in those with increasing degrees of severity of erectile dysfunction. The authors emphasize that erectile dysfunction is a risk marker for cardiovascular disease, not a risk factor that causes cardiovascular disease. These findings add to previous studies and highlight the need to consider erectile dysfunction in relation to the risk of different types of cardiovascular disease, including heart failure and heart conduction disorders. However, the study's reliance on the answer to a single self-assessed question on erectile functioning limits the findings. Nevertheless, these findings provide useful information for clinicians: men with erectile dysfunction are at higher risk of cardiovascular disease, and the worse the erectile dysfunction, the higher the risk of cardiovascular disease. Men with erectile dysfunction, even at mild or moderate levels, should be screened and treated for cardiovascular disease accordingly.
Additional Information
Please access these websites via the online version of this summary at
Wikipedia defines erectile dysfunction (note that Wikipedia is a free online encyclopedia that anyone can edit)
MedlinePlus also has some useful patient information on erectile dysfunction
The Mayo Clinic has patient-friendly information on the causes of, and treatments for, erectile dysfunction, and also includes information on the link with cardiovascular disease
The National Heart Foundation of Australia provides information for health professionals, patients, and the general public about how to prevent and manage cardiovascular disease, including assessment and management of cardiovascular disease risk
PMCID: PMC3558249  PMID: 23382654
22.  A Biological Global Positioning System: Considerations for Tracking Stem Cell Behaviors in the Whole Body 
Stem Cell Reviews  2010;6(2):317-333.
Many recent research studies have proposed stem cell therapy as a treatment for cancer, spinal cord injuries, brain damage, cardiovascular disease, and other conditions. Some of these experimental therapies have been tested in small animals and, in rare cases, in humans. Medical researchers anticipate extensive clinical applications of stem cell therapy in the future. The lack of basic knowledge concerning basic stem cell biology-survival, migration, differentiation, integration in a real time manner when transplanted into damaged CNS remains an absolute bottleneck for attempt to design stem cell therapies for CNS diseases. A major challenge to the development of clinical applied stem cell therapy in medical practice remains the lack of efficient stem cell tracking methods. As a result, the fate of the vast majority of stem cells transplanted in the human central nervous system (CNS), particularly in the detrimental effects, remains unknown. The paucity of knowledge concerning basic stem cell biology—survival, migration, differentiation, integration in real-time when transplanted into damaged CNS remains a bottleneck in the attempt to design stem cell therapies for CNS diseases. Even though excellent histological techniques remain as the gold standard, no good in vivo techniques are currently available to assess the transplanted graft for migration, differentiation, or survival. To address these issues, herein we propose strategies to investigate the lineage fate determination of derived human embryonic stem cells (hESC) transplanted in vivo into the CNS. Here, we describe a comprehensive biological Global Positioning System (bGPS) to track transplanted stem cells. But, first, we review, four currently used standard methods for tracking stem cells in vivo: magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), bioluminescence imaging (BLI), positron emission tomography (PET) imaging and fluorescence imaging (FLI) with quantum dots. We summarize these modalities and propose criteria that can be employed to rank the practical usefulness for specific applications. Based on the results of this review, we argue that additional qualities are still needed to advance these modalities toward clinical applications. We then discuss an ideal procedure for labeling and tracking stem cells in vivo, finally, we present a novel imaging system based on our experiments.
PMCID: PMC2887536  PMID: 20237964
Stem cells; Tracking system; Biological Global Positioning System (bGPS)
23.  Development of Bioartificial Myocardium Using Stem Cells and Nanobiotechnology Templates 
Cell-based regenerative therapy is undergoing experimental and clinical trials in cardiology, in order to limit the consequences of decreased contractile function and compliance of damaged ventricles following myocardial infarction. Over 1000 patients have been treated worldwide with cell-based procedures for myocardial regeneration. Cellular cardiomyoplasty seems to reduce the size and fibrosis of infarct scars, limit adverse postischemic remodelling, and improve diastolic function. The development of a bioartificial myocardium is a new challenge; in this approach, tissue-engineered procedures are associated with cell therapy. Organ decellularization for bioscaffolds fabrication is a new investigated concept. Nanomaterials are emerging as the main candidates to ensure the achievement of a proper instructive cellular niche with good drug release/administration properties. Investigating the electrophysiological properties of bioartificial myocardium is the challenging objective of future research, associating a multielectrode network to provide electrical stimulation could improve the coupling of grafted cells and scaffolds with host cardiomyocytes. In summary, until now stem cell transplantation has not achieved clear hemodynamic benefits for myocardial diseases. Supported by relevant scientific background, the development of myocardial tissue engineering may constitute a new avenue and hope for the treatment of myocardial diseases.
PMCID: PMC3021848  PMID: 21253535
24.  A purified population of multipotent cardiovascular progenitors derived from primate pluripotent stem cells engrafts in postmyocardial infarcted nonhuman primates 
The Journal of Clinical Investigation  2010;120(4):1125-1139.
Cell therapy holds promise for tissue regeneration, including in individuals with advanced heart failure. However, treatment of heart disease with bone marrow cells and skeletal muscle progenitors has had only marginal positive benefits in clinical trials, perhaps because adult stem cells have limited plasticity. The identification, among human pluripotent stem cells, of early cardiovascular cell progenitors required for the development of the first cardiac lineage would shed light on human cardiogenesis and might pave the way for cell therapy for cardiac degenerative diseases. Here, we report the isolation of an early population of cardiovascular progenitors, characterized by expression of OCT4, stage-specific embryonic antigen 1 (SSEA-1), and mesoderm posterior 1 (MESP1), derived from human pluripotent stem cells treated with the cardiogenic morphogen BMP2. This progenitor population was multipotential and able to generate cardiomyocytes as well as smooth muscle and endothelial cells. When transplanted into the infarcted myocardium of immunosuppressed nonhuman primates, an SSEA-1+ progenitor population derived from Rhesus embryonic stem cells differentiated into ventricular myocytes and reconstituted 20% of the scar tissue. Notably, primates transplanted with an unpurified population of cardiac-committed cells, which included SSEA-1– cells, developed teratomas in the scar tissue, whereas those transplanted with purified SSEA-1+ cells did not. We therefore believe that the SSEA-1+ progenitors that we have described here have the potential to be used in cardiac regenerative medicine.
PMCID: PMC2846046  PMID: 20335662
25.  Cellular Cardiomyoplasty and Cardiac Regeneration 
Current Cardiology Reviews  2008;4(2):72-80.
Despite of vast improvements in treatment, myocardial infarction often leads to heart failure (HF) which remains the leading cause of death in developed countries. Other than heart transplantation, therapeutic options have a limited role in improving out comes in patients with severe HF. It is therefore no surprise that cardiac cell therapy has raised many hopes as a novel therapeutic approach aimed at cardiac myocyte replacement/regeneration termed “cellular cardiomyoplasty”. However, the ideal source, cell type, critical cell number, and mode of application for optimal therapeutic effect have not been defined thus far. Recent observations of the beneficial effect of cell transplantation in animal experiments have generated tremendous excitement and stimulated clinical studies suggesting that this approach is feasible, safe, and potentially effective in humans. Cell-based myocardial regeneration is currently being explored for a wide range of cardiac disease states, including acute and chronic ischemic myocardial damage, cardiomyopathy and as biological heart pacemakers. The main purpose of this article is to review recent literature on the use of various cells for the examination of their in vitro cardiogenic potential and their in vivo capacity to engraft and improve the functional properties of the infarcted heart.
PMCID: PMC2779354  PMID: 19936280
Myocardial infarction; heart failure; myoblasts; bone marrow progenitor cells; clinical trials; review.

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