Recent evidence suggests that the heart possesses a greater regeneration capacity than previously thought. In the present study, we isolated undifferentiated precursors from the cardiac nonmyocyte cell population of neonatal hearts, expanded them in culture, and induced them to differentiate into functional cardiomyocytes. These cardiac precursors appear to express stem cell antigen–1 and demonstrate characteristics of multipotent precursors of mesodermal origin. Following infusion into normal recipients, these cells home to the heart and participate in physiological and pathophysiological cardiac remodeling. Cardiogenic differentiation in vitro and in vivo depends on FGF-2. Interestingly, this factor does not control the number of precursors but regulates the differentiation process. These findings suggest that, besides its angiogenic actions, FGF-2 could be used in vivo to facilitate the mobilization and differentiation of resident cardiac precursors in the treatment of cardiac diseases.
Nathalie Rosenblatt-Velin, Mario G. Lepore, Cristina Cartoni, Friedrich Beermann, Thierry Pedrazzini