Mesenchymal Stem Cell-Based Therapy for Cardiovascular Disease: Progress and Challenges

Luiza Bagno, Konstantinos E. Hatzistergos, Wayne Balkan, Joshua M. Hare

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

77 Scopus citations


Administration of mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs) to diseased hearts improves cardiac function and reduces scar size. These effects occur via the stimulation of endogenous repair mechanisms, including regulation of immune responses, tissue perfusion, inhibition of fibrosis, and proliferation of resident cardiac cells, although rare events of transdifferentiation into cardiomyocytes and vascular components are also described in animal models. While these improvements demonstrate the potential of stem cell therapy, the goal of full cardiac recovery has yet to be realized in either preclinical or clinical studies. To reach this goal, novel cell-based therapeutic approaches are needed. Ongoing studies include cell combinations, incorporation of MSCs into biomaterials, or pre-conditioning or genetic manipulation of MSCs to boost their release of paracrine factors, such as exosomes, growth factors, microRNAs, etc. All of these approaches can augment therapeutic efficacy. Further study of the optimal route of administration, the correct dose, the best cell population(s), and timing for treatment are parameters that still need to be addressed in order to achieve the goal of complete cardiac regeneration. Despite significant progress, many challenges remain. Administering mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs) to the injured heart improves cardiac function and reduces scar size, primarily by stimulating endogenous repair mechanisms. We review the progress, challenges, and potential of MSC-based therapy, and we propose that combining MSCs with other cell type(s) improves therapeutic efficacy.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1610-1623
Number of pages14
JournalMolecular Therapy
Issue number7
StatePublished - Jul 5 2018


  • cardiovascular disease
  • mesenchymal stem cell
  • regenerative medicine

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Molecular Medicine
  • Molecular Biology
  • Genetics
  • Pharmacology
  • Drug Discovery


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