Over 26 million people worldwide suffer from heart failure, a disease associated with a 1 year mortality rate of 22%. Half of these patients present heart failure with preserved ejection fraction (HFpEF), for which there is no available therapy to improve prognosis. HFpEF is strongly associated with aging, inflammation, and comorbid burden, which are thought to play causal roles in disease development. Mesenchymal stromal/stem cells (MSCs) have potent immunomodulatory actions and promote tissue healing, thus representing an attractive therapeutic option in HFpEF. In this review, we summarize recent data suggesting that a two-hit model of immune dysregulation lies at the heart of the HFpEF. A first hit is represented by genetic mutations associated with clonal hematopoiesis of indeterminate potential (CHIP), which skew immune cells toward a pro-inflammatory phenotype, are associated with HFpEF development in animal models, and with immune dysregulation and risk of HF hospitalization in patients. A second hit is induced by cardiovascular risk factors, which cause subclinical cardiac dysfunction and production of danger signals. In mice, these attract proinflammatory macrophages, Th1 and Th17 cells into the myocardium, where they are required for the development of HFpEF. MSCs have been shown to reduce the pro-inflammatory activity of immune cell types involved in murine HFpEF in vitro, and to reduce myocardial fibrosis and improve diastolic function in vivo, thus they may efficiently target immune dysregulation in HFpEF and stop disease progression.
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