- Scientists devise a method for growing stem cells into
epicardium cells, which is the outer layer of the heart
- These stem cells were induced to grow into heart muscle
cells by altering the Wnt pathway
- When the transforming growth factor inhibitor was
added, the cells continued to grow for over 50 days
have successfully designed a method by which human stem cells can be used to
generate the epicardium cells or the cells covering the outer surface of a
human heart. Dr. Xiaojun Lance Lian who is the assistant professor of
biomedical engineering said that in
2012, the research team had discovered
that if they treated human stem cells with specific chemicals which
sequentially activated and inhibited the Wnt signaling pathway, they developed
into myocardium cells. The myocardium which is the muscular part of the heart
and which pumps the blood to the various parts of the body, constitutes the
middle layer of the heart's three layers.
Wnt signaling pathway that constitutes a group of signal transduction pathways
is made up of proteins use cell surface receptors to introduce signals into a
Dr. Lian said that in order to generate the epicardium cells, they
needed to provide cardiac progenitor cells with more information. Initially,
the researchers did not know what information they needed to provide but they
soon realized that if they activated the Wnt signaling pathway once again, they
could make these cardiac progenitor cells to develop into myocardium cells.
‘Lab-grown epicardium cells from stem cells is an effective therapy for heart patients.’
results of the study were published in the Journal Nature Biomedical Engineering
, was a significant step in moving
towards regeneration of an entire heart. The epicardium cells were found to
be similar to the epicardium cells found in the human heart using functional
assay as well as morphological assessment.
The Layer Left- Endocardium
Lian states that the only layer left to grow is the endocardium which is the
innermost layer of the heart. The results of the study that showed the
successful growth of the epicardium has useful and practical applications in
the treatment of heart conditions, especially in patients who suffer a heart
Potential Therapeutic Use
an individual suffers a heart attack due to the blocked blood vessels,
nutrients and oxygen do not reach the heart muscle, resulting in the death of
the heart muscles. This is a permanent damage as the heart muscles cannot
regrow, which can further increase the problems associated with a heart attack.
The epicardium cells that were grown in the current study could be injected
into the heart and the muscles potentially restored.
research team altered the human stem cells to become reporter cells which meant
that they would become fluorescent when they developed into epicardium cells.
The cells were treated with differential cell signaling molecules and were then
treated with Wnt signaling activators which resulted in the fluorescence.
cells could also be maintained by continuing to generate epicardium cells by
treating the cells with a Transforming Growth Factor Beta (TGF) inhibitor. Even
after a period of 50 days, the cells continued to proliferate with no signs of
lowered proliferation. The cells that were not treated with the TGF inhibitor began to lower proliferation levels after a period of 10
future holds a lot of promise as the research team continues its effort to grow
the inner layer of the heart. If the inner layer of the heart can also be
grown, then the possibility of growing a new heart just seems possible.
Stem Cells in the Treatment of Myocardial
use of stem cells in people with myocardial repair has always been a much
talked about the procedure. There are various sources of stem cells
, like the embryonic stem cells, bone marrow stem cells
and the fetal stem cells. The
most ideal stem cells are found to be induced pluripotent stem cells and
embryonic stem cells.
marrow stem cells can either be used for functional recovery or can be used to
. The success in the use of these stem
cells in pre-clinical studies resulted in a large number of clinical trials
that were aimed at identifying the efficacy of treatment. Numerous studies have shown that the use of
stem cells may be safe but there is little that is understood about the dosage
and the time of application of these cells.
current study that focuses on the growth and differentiation of stem cells into
specific cells of the heart, namely the epicardium, results in a more specific
treatment method. Heart attack is a frequent phenomenon with a considerable
number of people being affected by the condition. The destruction of the
cardiac muscle cells is a major setback for people who have suffered a heart
attack. However, the introduction of lab-grown epicardium cells would aid in renewing the ability of the
heart muscles to function normally.
Moreover, continued research that identifies a method to grow a heart in the
lab could dramatically improve cardiac care and therapy.
- Stem Cell Therapy: A New Approach for Treatment of Myocardial Infarction - (https://www.omicsonline.org/stem-cell-therapy-a-new-approach-for-treatment-of-myocardial-infarction-2157-7633.S1-004.php?aid=2583)