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To assess whether autologous transplantation of cardiac atrial appendage stem cells (CASCs) preserves cardiac function after myocardial infarction (MI) in a minipig model.
CASCs were isolated from right atrial appendages based on high aldehyde dehydrogenase activity and expanded. MI was induced by a 2h snare ligation of the left anterior descending coronary artery. Upon reperfusion, CASCs were intramyocardially injected under NOGA guidance (MI-CASC, n=10). Non-transplanted pigs (MI, n=8) received sham treatment. 3D electromechanical mapping (EMM) and cardiac MRI were performed to assess left ventricular (LV) function.
MI pigs developed LV dilatation at 2 months (2M), while in the MI-CASC group volumes remained stable. Global LV ejection fraction decreased by 16 ± 8% in MI animals vs 3 ± 10% in MI-CASC animals and regional wall thickening in border areas was better preserved in the MI-CASC group. EMM showed decreased viability and wall motion in the LV for both groups POST-MI, whereas at 2M these parameters only improved in the MI-CASC. Substantial cell retention was accompanied by cardiomyogenic differentiation in 98±1% of the transplanted CASCs, which functionally integrated. Second harmonic generation microscopy confirmed the formation of mature sarcomeres in transplanted CASCs. Absence of cardiac arrhythmias indicated the safety of CASC transplantation.
Transplantation of CASCs is a new tool for cardiac repair after myocardial infarction by preserving cardiac function and cardiomyogenic differentiation.