Cardiac Progenitor Cells (CPCs) show great potential as a cell resource for restoring cardiac function in patients affected by heart disease or heart failure. CPCs are proliferative and committed to cardiac fate, capable of generating cells of all the cardiac lineages. These cells offer a significant shift in paradigm over the use of human induced pluripotent stem cell (iPSC)-derived cardiomyocytes owing to the latter’s inability to recapitulate mature features of a native myocardium, limiting their translational applications. The iPSCs and direct reprogramming of somatic cells have been attempted to produce CPCs and, in this process, a variety of chemical and/or genetic factors have been evaluated for their ability to generate, expand, and maintain CPCs in vitro. However, the precise stoichiometry and spatiotemporal activity of these factors and the genetic interplay during embryonic CPC development remain challenging to reproduce in culture, in terms of efficiency, numbers, and translational potential. Recent advances in biomaterials to mimic the native cardiac microenvironment have shown promise to influence CPC regenerative functions, while being capable of integrating with host tissue. This review highlights recent developments and limitations in the generation and use of CPCs from stem cells, and the trends that influence the direction of research to promote better application of CPCs.
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