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A Journal on Heart and Vascular Diseases

Official Journal of the Italian Society of Angiology and Vascular Pathology
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Minerva Cardioangiologica 2008 June;56(3):335-48

language: English

Stem cells in pediatric heart failure

Pillekamp F. 1, Khalil M. 2, Emmel M. 1, Brockmeier K. 1, Hescheler J. 2

1 Department of Pediatric Cardiology, University of Cologne, Cologne, Germany
2 Institute of Neurophysiology, University of Cologne, Cologne, Germany


Pediatric heart failure could be a target for regenerative therapy. Stem cell-based therapy has the potential to provide functional cardiomyocytes. Whereas adult stem cells have shown no or only minimal therapeutic benefit in adults with no evidence of transdifferentiation, embryonic stem cells can differentiate to any cell type, including cardiomyocytes. However, ethical concerns and immunological problems are associated with embryonic stem cells derived from the inner cell mass of blastocysts. Recently, somatic cells could be reprogrammed to a pluripotent state (i.e. induced pluripotent stem cells) with the help of transcription factors. This technique removes ethical and probably also immunological concerns. Nevertheless extensive experimental research will be necessary before cell replacement strategies become clinically applicable. Because the underlying pathophysiology differs significantly with age, caution is warranted extrapolating data obtained in experimental models of cardiac ischemia and clinical studies in adults to the pediatric population. Pediatric heart failure has a good prognosis if causal therapy is possible. However, some forms of congenital heart disease and especially dilated cardiomyopathy still have limited therapeutic options. Almost half of children with symptomatic cardiomyopathy receive a transplant or die within two years. The authors will review the relevant stem cell sources for cell-based treatments. And, given the differences of the underlying diseases between adult and pediatric patients with heart failure, it is contemplated which condition of pediatric patients with heart failure is most likely to benefit and which cell type would be appropriate.

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