Washington: A new study has suggested that delivering stem cell factor directly into damaged heart muscle after a heart attack may enhance cardiac repair and reverse injury.
Lead author Kenneth Fish from Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai said that their discoveries offer insight into the power of stem cells to regenerate damaged muscle after a heart attack.
In the study, Mount Sinai researchers administered stem cell factor (SCF) by gene transfer shortly after inducing heart attacks in pre-clinical models directly into damaged heart tissue to test its regenerative repair response.
A novel SCF gene transfer delivery system induced the recruitment and expansion of adult c-Kit positive (cKit+) cardiac stem cells to injury sites that reversed heart attack damage.
In addition, the gene therapy improved cardiac function, decreased heart muscle cell death, increased regeneration of heart tissue blood vessels, and reduced the formation of heart tissue scarring.
Senior author Roger J. Hajjar said that it is clear that the expression of the stem cell factor gene results in the generation of specific signals to neighboring cells in the damaged heart resulting in improved outcomes at the molecular, cellular, and organ level.
Hajjar added that thus, while still in the early stages of investigation, there is evidence that recruiting this small group of stem cells to the heart could be the basis of novel therapies for halting the clinical deterioration in patients with advanced heart failure.
cKit+ cells are a critical cardiac cytokine, or protein receptor, that bond to stem cell factors. They naturally increase after myocardial infarction and through cell proliferation are involved in cardiac repair.