Formation of large coronary arteries by cardiac progenitor cells

Jochen Tillmanns, Marcello Rota, Toru Hosoda, Yu Misao, Grazia Esposito, Arantxa Gonzalez, Serena Vitale, Carola Parolin, Saori Yasuzawa-Amano, John Muraski, Antonella De Angelis, Nicole LeCapitaine, Robert W. Siggins, Maria Loredo, Claudia Bearzi, Roberto Bolli, Konrad Urbanek, Annarosa Leri, Jan Kajstura, Piero Anversa

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

137 Scopus citations


Coronary artery disease is the most common cause of cardiac failure in the Western world, and to date there is no alternative to bypass surgery for severe coronary atherosclerosis. We report that c-kit-positive cardiac progenitor cells (CPCs) activated with insulin-like growth factor 1 and hepatocyte growth factor before their injection in proximity of the site of occlusion of the left coronary artery in rats, engrafted within the host myocardium forming temporary niches. Subsequently, CPCs divided and differentiated into endothelial cells and smooth muscle cells and, to a lesser extent, into cardiomyocytes. The acquisition of vascular lineages appeared to be mediated by the up-regulation of hypoxia-inducible factor 1α, which promoted the synthesis and secretion of stromal-derived factor 1 from hypoxic coronary vessels. Stromal-derived factor 1 was critical in the conversion of CPCs to the vascular fate. CPCs formed conductive and intermediate-sized coronary arteries together with resistance arterioles and capillaries. The new vessels were connected with the primary coronary circulation, and this increase in vascularization more than doubled myocardial blood flow in the infarcted myocardium. This beneficial effect, together with myocardial regeneration attenuated postinfarction dilated myopathy, reduced infarct size and improved function. In conclusion, locally delivered activated CPCs generate de novo coronary vasculature and may be implemented clinically for restoration of blood supply to the ischemic myocardium.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1668-1673
Number of pages6
JournalProceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
Issue number5
StatePublished - Feb 5 2008
Externally publishedYes


  • Coronary blood flow
  • Infarct size
  • Myocardial regeneration
  • Stem cells
  • Vasculogenesis

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General


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