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Review article: Biomedical intelligence

Vol. 141 No. 2122 (2011)

Cardiac repair with allogeneic mesenchymal stem cells after myocardial infarction

  • Swiss Medical Weekly
Cite this as:
Swiss Med Wkly. 2011;141:w13209


Over the past decade, use of autologous bone marrow-derived mononuclear cells (BMCs) has proven to be safe in phase-I/II studies in patients with myocardial infarction (MI). Taken as a whole, results support a modest yet significant improvement in cardiac function in cell-treated patients. Skeletal myoblasts, adipose-derived stem cells, and bone marrow-derived mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs) have also been tested in clinical studies. MSCs expand rapidly in vitro and have a potential for multilineage differentiation. However, their regenerative capacity decreases with aging, limiting efficacy in old patients. Allogeneic MSCs offer several advantages over autologous BMCs; however, immune rejection of allogeneic cells remains a key issue. As human MSCs do not express the human leukocyte antigen (HLA) class II under normal conditions, and because they modulate T-cell-mediated responses, it has been proposed that allogeneic MSCs may escape immunosurveillance. However, recent data suggest that allogeneic MSCs may switch immune states in vivo to express HLA class II, present alloantigen and induce immune rejection. Allogeneic MSCs, unlike syngeneic ones, were eliminated from rat hearts by 5 weeks, with a loss of functional benefit. Allogeneic MSCs have also been tested in initial clinical studies in cardiology patients. Intravenous allogeneic MSC infusion has proven to be safe in a phase-I trial in patients with acute MI. Endoventricular allogeneic MSC injection has been associated with reduced adverse cardiac events in a phase-II trial in patients with chronic heart failure. The long-term safety and efficacy of allogeneic MSCs for cardiac repair remain to be established. Ongoing phase-II trials are addressing these issues.


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