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A Journal on Cardiac, Vascular and Thoracic Surgery

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The Journal of Cardiovascular Surgery 2012 October;53(5):685-9

language: English

Stem cells and repair of the heart: cell-releasing epicardial scaffolds

Vizzardi E. 1, Lorusso R. 2, De Cicco G. 2, Zanini G. 1, D’Aloia A. 1, Dei Cas L. 1

1 Department of Cardiology, University of Brescia, Brescia, Italy;
2 Experimental Cardiac Surgery Laboratory, Cardiac Surgery Unit, Civic Hospital, Brescia, Italy


Cell transplantation represents the last frontier within the treatment of cardiac diseases. From the first paper published in 1992 that has documented the potentials of the transplantation of autologous skeletal muscle cells to treat the damage induced by acute myocardial infarction, innumerable techniques of implantation and types of cells used has been reported, greatly expanding this innovative and appealing field of search in cardiovascular medicine. Despite original promises and expectations, current evidences of stem cell transplantation are still weak and controversial. Therefore, alternative line of research are being explored, particularly in the field of techniques of cell implantation and engraftment. Besides direct implantation or myocardial colonization by bone marrow stimulation, epicardial application of cell-delivering systems (scaffold and patches) have gained popularity due to the possibility to apply selectively a cell-containing device which may gradually release the chosen cell type, alone or in combination with trophic substances. The scaffolds have proven to be successful in this respect and may represent a valid alternative to coronary, intra-myocardial, or venous injection of stem cells, or to stem cell stimulating factors. Finally these systems may be applied through minimally invasive procedures and act as external constraint to enhance ventricular reverse remodelling or limit further cardiac dilatation.

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mail: enrico.vizzardi@tin.it