Cardiac cell therapy: Where weve been, where we are, and where we should be headed

Konstantinos Malliaras, Eduardo Marbán

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

149 Scopus citations


Introduction: Stem cell therapy has emerged as a promising strategy for the treatment of ischemic cardiomyopathy. Sources of data: Multiple candidate cell types have been used in preclinical animal models and in clinical trials to repair or regenerate the injured heart either directly (through formation of new transplanted tissue) or indirectly (through paracrine effects activating endogenous regeneration). Areas of agreement: (i) Clinical trials examining the safety and efficacy of bone marrow derived cells in patients with heart disease are promising, but results leave much room for improvement. (ii) The safety profile has been quite favorable. (iii) Efficacy has been inconsistent and, overall, modest. (iv) Tissue retention of cells after delivery into the heart is disappointingly low. (v) The beneficial effects of adult stem cell therapy are predominantly mediated by indirect paracrine mechanisms. Areas of controversy: The cardiogenic potential of bone marrow-derived cells, the mechanism whereby small numbers of poorly-retained cells translate to measurable clinical benefit, and the overall impact on clinical outcomes are hotly debated. Growing points: / Areas timely for developing research: This overview of the field leaves us with cautious optimism, while motivating a search for more effective delivery methods, better strategies to boost cell engraftment, more apt patient populations, safe and effective 'off the shelf' cell products and more potent cell types.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)161-185
Number of pages25
JournalBritish Medical Bulletin
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jun 2011
Externally publishedYes


  • cardiac stem cells
  • heart regeneration
  • stem cell therapy

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine(all)


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