The survival rate of stem cells in the myocardium is low though the stem cells have shown promise to heal diseased cardiac tissue. Apart from the reduced blood flow, imbalance of signaling molecules inside the scarred heart is partially responsible for early apoptosis of stem cells.
Researchers at Ohio State University noted that miR-133a has been noted to be in abnormally low quantities in patients following a heart attack. So infusing stem cells with high levels of miR-133a may delay apoptosis was the hypothesis.
The team used a specialty molecule that was able to induce mesenchymal stem cells to produce their own miR-133a. They tested these stem cells within rat hearts that suffered a myocardial infarction, showing that the cells made to produce the regulating microRNA survived in considerably larger quantities compared to untreated stem cells.
Overall, bioengineering of stem cells through miRNAs manipulation could potentially improve the therapeutic outcome of patients undergoing stem cell transplantation for MI.