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Special Issue "Stem Cell-Based Therapy"

A special issue of International Journal of Molecular Sciences (ISSN 1422-0067). This special issue belongs to the section "Molecular Pathology, Diagnostics, and Therapeutics".

Deadline for manuscript submissions: 31 December 2019.

Special Issue Editors

Prof. Dr. Marcin Majka
E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
Department of Transplantation, Jagiellonian University, Krakow, Poland
Prof. Dr. Ewa Zuba-Surma
E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
Jagiellonian University; Poland
Prof. Dr. Piotr Musialek
E-Mail
Guest Editor
Uniwersytet Jagiellonski w Krakowie, Department of Cardiac and Vascular Diseases, Krakow, Poland

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

Despite enormous progress in cardiovascular medicine, many fundamental treatments remain palliative rather than curative, leading to suboptimal clinical outcomes. One such example is heart failure, resulting from loss of contractile myocardial tissue.

The emergence of a new field, regenerative medicine with cell replacement therapy enabling recovery of injured tissues and activation of endogenous processes of tissue repair, opens novel paths and new perspectives for development of curative therapies. In this Special Issue devoted to stem cell-based therapies we will discuss recent breakthroughs both in the areas of basic and translational research and clinical medicine. We aim to depict cutting-edge data on recent progress in understanding stem cells biology in relation to their therapeutic potential, new approaches in tracking and imaging of both stem cells and tissues/organs undergoing regeneration, and data from clinical trials of cell-based therapies. Moreover, the mechanisms of stem cells activity including extracellular vesicle production and potential use will be presented.

Prof. Dr. Marcin Majka
Prof. Dr. Ewa Zuba-Surma
Prof. Dr. Piotr Musialek
Guest Editors

Manuscript Submission Information

Manuscripts should be submitted online at www.mdpi.com by registering and logging in to this website. Once you are registered, click here to go to the submission form. Manuscripts can be submitted until the deadline. All papers will be peer-reviewed. Accepted papers will be published continuously in the journal (as soon as accepted) and will be listed together on the special issue website. Research articles, review articles as well as short communications are invited. For planned papers, a title and short abstract (about 100 words) can be sent to the Editorial Office for announcement on this website.

Submitted manuscripts should not have been published previously, nor be under consideration for publication elsewhere (except conference proceedings papers). All manuscripts are thoroughly refereed through a single-blind peer-review process. A guide for authors and other relevant information for submission of manuscripts is available on the Instructions for Authors page. International Journal of Molecular Sciences is an international peer-reviewed open access semimonthly journal published by MDPI.

Please visit the Instructions for Authors page before submitting a manuscript. There is an Article Processing Charge (APC) for publication in this open access journal. For details about the APC please see here. Submitted papers should be well formatted and use good English. Authors may use MDPI's English editing service prior to publication or during author revisions.

Keywords

  • stem cells
  • cell tracking
  • tissue imaging
  • replacement therapy
  • clinical outcomes
  • extracellular vesicles

Published Papers (12 papers)

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Research

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Open AccessArticle
Membrane-Free Stem Cell Components Inhibit Interleukin-1α-Stimulated Inflammation and Cartilage Degradation In Vitro and In Vivo: A Rat Model of Osteoarthritis
Int. J. Mol. Sci. 2019, 20(19), 4869; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijms20194869 - 30 Sep 2019
Abstract
Membrane-free stem cell components (MFSCC) from basal adipose tissue-derived stem cells (ADSCs) are unknown for the treatment strategies in osteoarthritis (OA). OA has been considered to be associated with inflammatory damage and cartilage degradation. In this study, we intended to investigate the molecular [...] Read more.
Membrane-free stem cell components (MFSCC) from basal adipose tissue-derived stem cells (ADSCs) are unknown for the treatment strategies in osteoarthritis (OA). OA has been considered to be associated with inflammatory damage and cartilage degradation. In this study, we intended to investigate the molecular mechanism of the anti-inflammation and cartilage protection effect of MFSCC in vitro (rat primary chondrocytes) and in vivo (rat OA model). The MFSCC treatment significantly inhibited interleukin-1α (IL-1α) stimulated inflammation and cartilage degradation. The MFSCC considerably reduced the levels of inflammatory factors such as iNOS, COX-2, NO, and PGE2 and was suppressed NF-κB and MAPKs signaling pathways in IL-1α-stimulated rat chondrocytes. Additionally, biomarkers of OA such as MMP-9, COMP, and CTX-II decreased in the monosodium iodoacetate (MIA)-induced rat OA model by MFSCC treatment. In conclusion, the MFSCC was established to suppress IL-1α induced inflammation and cartilage degradation in vitro and in vivo. These findings provide new insight for understanding OA therapy using membrane-free stem cell approaches. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Stem Cell-Based Therapy)
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Open AccessArticle
Regenerative Potential of the Product “CardioCell” Derived from the Wharton’s Jelly Mesenchymal Stem Cells for Treating Hindlimb Ischemia
Int. J. Mol. Sci. 2019, 20(18), 4632; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijms20184632 - 18 Sep 2019
Abstract
In recent years, mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs) have emerged as a promising therapeutic modality in regenerative medicine. They hold great promise for treating civilization-wide diseases, including cardiovascular diseases, such as acute myocardial infarction and critical limb ischemia. MSCs isolated from Wharton’s jelly (WJ-MSCs) [...] Read more.
In recent years, mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs) have emerged as a promising therapeutic modality in regenerative medicine. They hold great promise for treating civilization-wide diseases, including cardiovascular diseases, such as acute myocardial infarction and critical limb ischemia. MSCs isolated from Wharton’s jelly (WJ-MSCs) may be utilized in both cell-based therapy and vascular graft engineering to restore vascular function, thereby providing therapeutic benefits for patients. The efficacy of WJ-MSCs lies in their multipotent differentiation ability toward vascular smooth muscle cells, endothelial cells and other cell types, as well as their capacity to secrete various trophic factors, which are potent in promoting angiogenesis, inhibiting apoptosis and modulating immunoreaction. Ischemic limb disease is caused by insufficient nutrient and oxygen supplies resulting from damaged peripheral arteries. The lack of nutrients and oxygen causes severe tissue damage in the limb, thereby resulting in severe morbidities and mortality. The therapeutic effects of the conventional treatments are still not sufficient. Cell transplantations in small animal model (mice) are vital for deciphering the mechanisms of MSCs’ action in muscle regeneration. The stimulation of angiogenesis is a promising strategy for the treatment of ischemic limbs, restoring blood supply for the ischemic region. In the present study, we focus on the therapeutic properties of the human WJ-MSCs derived product, Cardio. We investigated the role of CardioCell in promoting angiogenesis and relieving hindlimb ischemia. Our results confirm the healing effect of CardioCell and strongly support the use of the WJ-MSCs in regenerative medicine. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Stem Cell-Based Therapy)
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Open AccessArticle
AFM-based Analysis of Wharton’s Jelly Mesenchymal Stem Cells
Int. J. Mol. Sci. 2019, 20(18), 4351; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijms20184351 - 05 Sep 2019
Abstract
Wharton’s jelly mesenchymal stem cells (WJ-MSCs) are multipotent stem cells that can be used in regenerative medicine. However, to reach the high therapeutic efficacy of WJ-MSCs, it is necessary to obtain a large amount of MSCs, which requires their extensive in vitro culturing. [...] Read more.
Wharton’s jelly mesenchymal stem cells (WJ-MSCs) are multipotent stem cells that can be used in regenerative medicine. However, to reach the high therapeutic efficacy of WJ-MSCs, it is necessary to obtain a large amount of MSCs, which requires their extensive in vitro culturing. Numerous studies have shown that in vitro expansion of MSCs can lead to changes in cell behavior; cells lose their ability to proliferate, differentiate and migrate. One of the important measures of cells’ migration potential is their elasticity, determined by atomic force microscopy (AFM) and quantified by Young’s modulus. This work describes the elasticity of WJ-MSCs during in vitro cultivation. To identify the properties that enable transmigration, the deformability of WJ-MSCs that were able to migrate across the endothelial monolayer or Matrigel was analyzed by AFM. We showed that WJ-MSCs displayed differences in deformability during in vitro cultivation. This phenomenon seems to be strongly correlated with the organization of F-actin and reflects the changes characteristic for stem cell maturation. Furthermore, the results confirm the relationship between the deformability of WJ-MSCs and their migration potential and suggest the use of Young’s modulus as one of the measures of competency of MSCs with respect to their possible use in therapy. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Stem Cell-Based Therapy)
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Open AccessArticle
Interleukin 4 Moderately Affects Competence of Pluripotent Stem Cells for Myogenic Conversion
Int. J. Mol. Sci. 2019, 20(16), 3932; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijms20163932 - 13 Aug 2019
Abstract
Pluripotent stem cells convert into skeletal muscle tissue during teratoma formation or chimeric animal development. Thus, they are characterized by naive myogenic potential. Numerous attempts have been made to develop protocols enabling efficient and safe conversion of pluripotent stem cells into functional myogenic [...] Read more.
Pluripotent stem cells convert into skeletal muscle tissue during teratoma formation or chimeric animal development. Thus, they are characterized by naive myogenic potential. Numerous attempts have been made to develop protocols enabling efficient and safe conversion of pluripotent stem cells into functional myogenic cells in vitro. Despite significant progress in the field, generation of myogenic cells from pluripotent stem cells is still challenging—i.e., currently available methods require genetic modifications, animal-derived reagents, or are long lasting—and, therefore, should be further improved. In the current study, we investigated the influence of interleukin 4, a factor regulating inter alia migration and fusion of myogenic cells and necessary for proper skeletal muscle development and maintenance, on pluripotent stem cells. We assessed the impact of interleukin 4 on proliferation, selected gene expression, and ability to fuse in case of both undifferentiated and differentiating mouse embryonic stem cells. Our results revealed that interleukin 4 slightly improves fusion of pluripotent stem cells with myoblasts leading to the formation of hybrid myotubes. Moreover, it increases the level of early myogenic genes such as Mesogenin1, Pax3, and Pax7 in differentiating embryonic stem cells. Thus, interleukin 4 moderately enhances competence of mouse pluripotent stem cells for myogenic conversion. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Stem Cell-Based Therapy)
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Open AccessArticle
Adipose Tissue-Derived Stromal Cells in Matrigel Impact the Regeneration of Severely Damaged Skeletal Muscles
Int. J. Mol. Sci. 2019, 20(13), 3313; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijms20133313 - 05 Jul 2019
Abstract
In case of large injuries of skeletal muscles the pool of endogenous stem cells, i.e., satellite cells, might be not sufficient to secure proper regeneration. Such failure in reconstruction is often associated with loss of muscle mass and excessive formation of connective tissue. [...] Read more.
In case of large injuries of skeletal muscles the pool of endogenous stem cells, i.e., satellite cells, might be not sufficient to secure proper regeneration. Such failure in reconstruction is often associated with loss of muscle mass and excessive formation of connective tissue. Therapies aiming to improve skeletal muscle regeneration and prevent fibrosis may rely on the transplantation of different types of stem cell. Among such cells are adipose tissue-derived stromal cells (ADSCs) which are relatively easy to isolate, culture, and manipulate. Our study aimed to verify applicability of ADSCs in the therapies of severely injured skeletal muscles. We tested whether 3D structures obtained from Matrigel populated with ADSCs and transplanted to regenerating mouse gastrocnemius muscles could improve the regeneration. In addition, ADSCs used in this study were pretreated with myoblasts-conditioned medium or anti-TGFβ antibody, i.e., the factors modifying their ability to proliferate, migrate, or differentiate. Analyses performed one week after injury allowed us to show the impact of 3D cultured control and pretreated ADSCs at muscle mass and structure, as well as fibrosis development immune response of the injured muscle. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Stem Cell-Based Therapy)
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Open AccessArticle
Proteolytic Rafts for Improving Intraparenchymal Migration of Minimally Invasively Administered Hydrogel-Embedded Stem Cells
Int. J. Mol. Sci. 2019, 20(12), 3083; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijms20123083 - 24 Jun 2019
Abstract
The physiological spaces (lateral ventricles, intrathecal space) or pathological cavities (stroke lesion, syringomyelia) may serve as an attractive gateway for minimally invasive deployment of stem cells. Embedding stem cells in injectable scaffolds is essential when transplanting into the body cavities as they secure [...] Read more.
The physiological spaces (lateral ventricles, intrathecal space) or pathological cavities (stroke lesion, syringomyelia) may serve as an attractive gateway for minimally invasive deployment of stem cells. Embedding stem cells in injectable scaffolds is essential when transplanting into the body cavities as they secure favorable microenvironment and keep cells localized, thereby preventing sedimentation. However, the limited migration of transplanted cells from scaffold to the host tissue is still a major obstacle, which prevents this approach from wider implementation for the rapidly growing field of regenerative medicine. Hyaluronan, a naturally occurring polymer, is frequently used as a basis of injectable scaffolds. We hypothesized that supplementation of hyaluronan with activated proteolytic enzymes could be a viable approach for dissolving the connective tissue barrier on the interface between the scaffold and the host, such as pia mater or scar tissue, thus demarcating lesion cavity. In a proof-of-concept study, we have found that collagenase and trypsin immobilized in hyaluronan-based hydrogel retain 60% and 28% of their proteolytic activity compared to their non-immobilized forms, respectively. We have also shown that immobilized enzymes do not have a negative effect on the viability of stem cells (glial progenitors and mesenchymal stem cells) in vitro. In conclusion, proteolytic rafts composed of hyaluronan-based hydrogels and immobilized enzymes may be an attractive strategy to facilitate migration of stem cells from injectable scaffolds into the parenchyma of surrounding tissue. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Stem Cell-Based Therapy)
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Open AccessArticle
Intranasal Delivery of Mesenchymal Stromal Cells Protects against Neonatal Hypoxic–Ischemic Brain Injury
Int. J. Mol. Sci. 2019, 20(10), 2449; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijms20102449 - 17 May 2019
Abstract
Cerebral palsy (CP) is a permanent motor disorder that results from brain injury and neuroinflammation during the perinatal period. Mesenchymal stromal cells (MSCs) have been explored as a therapy in multiple adult neuroinflammatory conditions. Our study examined the therapeutic benefits of intranasal delivery [...] Read more.
Cerebral palsy (CP) is a permanent motor disorder that results from brain injury and neuroinflammation during the perinatal period. Mesenchymal stromal cells (MSCs) have been explored as a therapy in multiple adult neuroinflammatory conditions. Our study examined the therapeutic benefits of intranasal delivery of human umbilical cord tissue (UC) derived-MSCs in a rat model of neonatal hypoxic–ischemic (HI) brain injury. To do this, HI was performed on postnatal day 10 Sprague-Dawley rat pups via permanent ligation of the left carotid artery, followed by a hypoxic challenge of 8% oxygen for 90 min. A total of 200,000 UC-MSCs (10 million/kg) were administered intranasally 24 h post-HI. Motor control was assessed after seven days, followed by post-mortem. Analysis included brain immunohistochemistry, gene analysis and serum cytokine measurement. Neonatal HI resulted in brain injury with significant loss of neurons, particularly in the hippocampus. Intranasal administration of UC-MSCs significantly reduced the loss of brain tissue and increased the number of hippocampal neurons. HI significantly upregulated brain inflammation and expression of pro-inflammatory cytokines, while intranasal UC-MSCs significantly reduced markers of neuroinflammation. This study demonstrated that a clinically relevant dose (10 million/kg) of UC-MSCs was neuroprotective following HI by restoring neuronal cell numbers and reducing brain inflammation. Therefore, intranasal delivery of UC-MSCs may be an effective therapy for neonatal brain injury. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Stem Cell-Based Therapy)
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Open AccessArticle
Molecular and Functional Verification of Wharton’s Jelly Mesenchymal Stem Cells (WJ-MSCs) Pluripotency
Int. J. Mol. Sci. 2019, 20(8), 1807; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijms20081807 - 12 Apr 2019
Cited by 1
Abstract
The properties of mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs), especially their self-renewal and ability to differentiate into different cell lines, are widely discussed. Considering the fact that MSCs isolated from perinatal tissues reveal higher differentiation capacity than most adult MSCs, we examined mesenchymal stem cells [...] Read more.
The properties of mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs), especially their self-renewal and ability to differentiate into different cell lines, are widely discussed. Considering the fact that MSCs isolated from perinatal tissues reveal higher differentiation capacity than most adult MSCs, we examined mesenchymal stem cells isolated from Wharton’s jelly of umbilical cord (WJ-MSCs) in terms of pluripotency markers expression. Our studies showed that WJ-MSCs express some pluripotency markers—such as NANOG, OCT-4, and SSEA-4—but in comparison to iPS cells expression level is significantly lower. The level of expression can be raised under hypoxic conditions. Despite their high proliferation potential and ability to differentiate into different cells type, WJ-MSCs do not form tumors in vivo, the major caveat of iPS cells. Owing to their biological properties, high plasticity, proliferation capacity, and ease of isolation and culture, WJ-MSCs are turning out to be a promising tool of modern regenerative medicine. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Stem Cell-Based Therapy)
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Open AccessArticle
Adipose Tissue-Derived Mesenchymal Stem Cell Modulates the Immune Response of Allergic Rhinitis in a Rat Model
Int. J. Mol. Sci. 2019, 20(4), 873; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijms20040873 - 18 Feb 2019
Cited by 1
Abstract
This study was designed to investigate the potential effects and underlying mechanism of adipose tissue-derived mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs) on allergic inflammation compared to Montelukast as an antileukotriene drug in a rat model of allergic rhinitis (AR). The effect of MSCs was evaluated [...] Read more.
This study was designed to investigate the potential effects and underlying mechanism of adipose tissue-derived mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs) on allergic inflammation compared to Montelukast as an antileukotriene drug in a rat model of allergic rhinitis (AR). The effect of MSCs was evaluated in albino rats that were randomly divided into four (control, AR, AR + Montelukast, and AR + MSCs) groups. Rats of AR group were sensitized by ovalbumin (OVA) and then challenged with daily nasal drops of OVA diluted in sterile physiological saline (50 μL/nostril, 100 mg/mL, 10% OVA) from day 15 to day 21 of treatment with/without Montelukast (1 h before each challenge) or MSCs I/P injection (1 × 106 MCSs; weekly for three constitutive weeks). Both Montelukast and MSCs treatment started from day 15 of the experiment. At the end of the 5th week, blood samples were collected from all rats for immunological assays, histological, and molecular biology examinations. Both oral Montelukast and intraperitoneal injection of MSCs significantly reduced allergic symptoms and OVA-specific immunoglobulin E (IgE), IgG1, IgG2a and histamine as well as increasing prostaglandin E2 (PGE2). Further analysis revealed that induction of nasal innate cytokines, such as interleukin (IL)-4 and TNF-α; and chemokines, such as CCL11 and vascular cell adhesion molecule-1 (VCAM-1), were suppressed; and transforming growth factor-β (TGF-β) was up-regulated in Montelukast and MSCs-treated groups with superior effect to MSCs, which explained their underlying mechanism. In addition, the adipose tissue-derived MSCs-treated group had more restoring effects on nasal mucosa structure demonstrated by electron microscopical examination. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Stem Cell-Based Therapy)
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Review

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Open AccessReview
Regenerative Capacity of Adipose Derived Stem Cells (ADSCs), Comparison with Mesenchymal Stem Cells (MSCs)
Int. J. Mol. Sci. 2019, 20(10), 2523; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijms20102523 - 22 May 2019
Cited by 1
Abstract
Adipose tissue is now on the top one of stem cell sources regarding its accessibility, abundance, and less painful collection procedure when compared to other sources. The adipose derived stem cells (ADSCs) that it contains can be maintained and expanded in culture for [...] Read more.
Adipose tissue is now on the top one of stem cell sources regarding its accessibility, abundance, and less painful collection procedure when compared to other sources. The adipose derived stem cells (ADSCs) that it contains can be maintained and expanded in culture for long periods of time without losing their differentiation capacity, leading to large cell quantities being increasingly used in cell therapy purposes. Many reports showed that ADSCs-based cell therapy products demonstrated optimal efficacy and efficiency in some clinical indications for both autologous and allogeneic purposes, hence becoming considered as potential tools for replacing, repairing, and regenerating dead or damaged cells. In this review, we analyzed the therapeutic advancement of ADSCs in comparison to bone marrow (BM) and umbilical cord (UC)-mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs) and designed the specific requirements to their best clinical practices and safety. Our analysis was focused on the ADSCs, rather than the whole stromal vascular fraction (SVF) cell populations, to facilitate characterization that is related to their source of origins. Clinical outcomes improvement suggested that these cells hold great promise in stem cell-based therapies in neurodegenerative, cardiovascular, and auto-immunes diseases. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Stem Cell-Based Therapy)
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Open AccessReview
When CAR Meets Stem Cells
Int. J. Mol. Sci. 2019, 20(8), 1825; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijms20081825 - 12 Apr 2019
Abstract
The generation of immune cells from human pluripotent stem cells (embryonic stem cells and induced pluripotent stem cells) has been of keen interest to regenerative medicine. Pluripotent stem cell-derived immune cells such as natural killer cells, macrophages, and lymphoid cells, especially T cells, [...] Read more.
The generation of immune cells from human pluripotent stem cells (embryonic stem cells and induced pluripotent stem cells) has been of keen interest to regenerative medicine. Pluripotent stem cell-derived immune cells such as natural killer cells, macrophages, and lymphoid cells, especially T cells, can be used in immune cell therapy to treat incurable cancers. Moreover, since the advent of chimeric antigen receptor (CAR) technology, the success of CAR-T cells in the clinic has galvanized new efforts to harness the power of CAR technology to generate CAR-engineered immune cells from pluripotent stem cells. This review provides a summary of pluripotent stem cell-derived immune cells and CAR technology, together with perspectives on combining pluripotent stem-cell derived immune cells and CAR engineering to pave a new way for developing next generation immune cell therapy. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Stem Cell-Based Therapy)
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Open AccessReview
Regenerative Cardiovascular Therapies: Stem Cells and Beyond
Int. J. Mol. Sci. 2019, 20(6), 1420; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijms20061420 - 21 Mar 2019
Cited by 3
Abstract
Although reperfusion therapy has improved outcomes, acute myocardial infarction (AMI) is still associated with both significant mortality and morbidity. Once irreversible myocardial cell death due to ischemia and reperfusion sets in, scarring leads to reduction in left ventricular function and subsequent heart failure. [...] Read more.
Although reperfusion therapy has improved outcomes, acute myocardial infarction (AMI) is still associated with both significant mortality and morbidity. Once irreversible myocardial cell death due to ischemia and reperfusion sets in, scarring leads to reduction in left ventricular function and subsequent heart failure. Regenerative cardiovascular medicine experienced a boost in the early 2000s when regenerative effects of bone marrow stem cells in a murine model of AMI were described. Translation from an animal model to stem cell application in a clinical setting was rapid and the first large trials in humans suffering from AMI were conducted. However, high initial hopes were early shattered by inconsistent results of randomized clinical trials in patients suffering from AMI treated with stem cells. Hence, we provide an overview of both basic science and clinical trials carried out in regenerative cardiovascular therapies. Possible pitfalls in specific cell processing techniques and trial design are discussed as these factors influence both basic science and clinical outcomes. We address possible solutions. Alternative mechanisms and explanations for effects seen in both basic science and some clinical trials are discussed here, with special emphasis on paracrine mechanisms via growth factors, exosomes, and microRNAs. Based on these findings, we propose an outlook in which stem cell therapy, or therapeutic effects associated with stem cell therapy, such as paracrine mechanisms, might play an important role in the future. Optimizing stem cell processing and a better understanding of paracrine signaling as well as its effect on cardioprotection and remodeling after AMI might improve not only AMI research, but also our patients’ outcomes. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Stem Cell-Based Therapy)
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