The Presence of Neural Progenitor Cells Among the C-kitPOS Stem Cell Population in the Adult Rat Heart


One of the most exciting fields in cardiovascular research today involves the possible use of stem cells for the treatment of a variety of cardiovascular disorders. Regenerative medicine strives to convert stem cells into other cell types for tissue repair and regeneration. The presence of cardiac stem cells and newly generated myocytes in the adult heart has opened new opportunities for myocardial repair. The specific aim of this study was to evaluate whether neural progenitors are present among the c-kitpos cardiac stem cell population in the adult rat heart. Preliminary results presented here indicate that a fraction of the c-kitpos cardiac stem cells express nestin and GFAP, potentially identifying this cell sub-fraction as neural progenitors and precursor cells within the cardiac stem cell population. The notion of c-kitpos cardiac stem cells producing neurons and glial cells would not only further characterize these cells as possessing a wide differentiation potential (mesoderm and ectoderm), but also create new avenues for cardiac regenerative therapy and provide a cell-based approach to correct cardiac rhythm disturbance. Biological pacemaking can be achieved by delivering engineered pacemaker cells into normally quiescent myocardium. The finding that adult cardiac stem cells have a broad differentiation potential, and that they express intermediate progenitors with neural characteristics, identifies them as an optimal source to generate pacemaker cells such as the purkinje fibers, and distinguishes these stem cells as possible and highly effective supplies for cell-based therapies.