An extract derived from bone marrow cells is as effective as therapy using bone marrow stem cells for improving cardiac function after a heart attack, finds a new study.
The study was conducted in mice using a novel stem cell delivery method developed by researchers to show that the extract from bone marrow cells is as beneficial to cardiac function as are intact, whole cells.
Both the cell and cell extract therapies resulted in the presence of more blood vessels and less cardiac cell death, or apoptosis, than no therapy.
The study also showed that heart function benefited despite the finding that few of the injected cells remained in the heart at one month after therapy.
"Peer-reviewed medical literature is controversial as to whether bone marrow cells differentiate into cardiomyocytes, or cardiac muscle cells, but there is general agreement that stem cell therapy with these cells results in some level of functional improvement after a heart attack. The exact mechanism for this is not yet clear," said Yerem Yeghiazarians, MD, study author, cardiologist and director of UCSF's Translational Cardiac Stem Cell Development Program.
"Our results confirm that whole cells are not necessarily required in order to see the beneficial effects of bone marrow cell therapy," Yeghiazarians added.
Researchers are investigating these new therapies to improve cardiac function after heart attack in an effort to prevent heart failure.
"Current therapies improve symptoms but do not replace scar tissue. Our hope is to use stem cells to decrease the scar, minimize the loss of cardiac muscle and maintain or even improve the cardiac function after a heart attack," Yeghiazarians said.
The researchers are conducting further studies to evaluate bone marrow cell and extract therapies in order to identify the proteins and factors within the extract and gain insight into the possible mechanisms of cardiac functional improvement.
The findings were published online and in the July 2009 issue of the Journal of Molecular Therapy.