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Journal of Physiology

Clinical Articles, Lead Article

Stem cells keep cardiac beat in synchrony

Stem cell therapy used to regenerate injured tissue in the heart restores synchronous pumping, according to research1 published recently in the Journal of Physiology. The study proposes a novel strategy of ‘biological resynchronisation’ in which stem cells repair heart muscle damage to reestablish correct cardiac motion.

The new approach, discovered by a team at Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota, USA, attempts to use stem cells to form functional cardiac tissue and reconstruct heart muscle. Professor Andre Terzic, who led the study, said: “The heart is vulnerable to injury due to a limited capacity for self-repair. Current therapies are unable to repair damaged cardiac tissue. This proof-of-principle study provides evidence that a stem cell-based regenerative intervention may prove effective in synchronising failing hearts, extending the reach of currently available therapies.”

Dr Satsuki Yamada, first author of the study, further explains how the research was carried out: “Stem cells, with a capacity of generating new heart muscle, were engineered from ordinary tissue. These engineered stem cells were injected into damaged hearts of mice. The impact on cardiac resynchronization was documented using high-resolution imaging.”

The observed benefit, in the absence of adverse effects, will need to be validated in additional pre-clinical studies prior to clinical translation, said the authors.

Stem cells pic

Regeneration of damaged heart tissue synchronizes its motion. Left: Motion in healthy heart. Middle: Heart attack affects cardiac motion (blue area), which leads to organ failure. Right: Delivered into damaged heart muscle, stem cell therapy resynchronizes heart contractions (yellow area)


1. Yamada S, Nelson T, Kane G, et al. iPS cell intervention rescues wall motion disparity achieving biological cardiac resynchronization post-infarction. J Physiol 2013;591:4335–49.

Published on: August 30, 2013

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