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Harnessing cell pluripotency for cardiovascular regenerative medicine


Human pluripotent stem cells (hPSCs), in particular embryonic stem cells and induced pluripotent stem cells, have received enormous attention in cardiovascular regenerative medicine owing to their ability to expand and differentiate into functional cardiomyocytes and other cardiovascular cell types. Despite the potential applications of hPSCs for tissue regeneration in patients suffering from cardiovascular disease, whether hPSC-based therapies can be safe and efficacious remains inconclusive, with strong evidence from clinical trials lacking. Critical factors limiting therapeutic efficacy are the degree of maturity and purity of the hPSC-derived differentiated progeny, and the tumorigenic risk associated with residual undifferentiated cells. In this Review, we discuss recent advances in cardiac-cell differentiation from hPSCs and in the direct reprogramming of non-myocyte cells for cardiovascular regenerative applications. We also discuss approaches for the delivery of cells to diseased tissue, and how such advances are contributing to progress in cardiac tissue engineering for tackling heart disease.

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This work was supported in part by research grants from the National Institutes of Health R01 HL126527, R01 HL133272 and R24 HL117756, American Heart Association 17MERIT33610009 (to J.C.W.), and iHeart Research Dorothy Dee & Marjorie Helene Boring Trust Award (to A.Z.).

Author information

H.C. and J.C.W. conceptualized the outline and contents of the article. H.C. and A.Z. participated in the researching and writing for the article, and J.C.W. reviewed and edited the manuscript before submission.

Competing interests

The authors declare no competing interests.

Correspondence to Joseph C. Wu.

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Fig. 1: Pluripotent stem cell therapy for cardiovascular regeneration.
Fig. 2: The trajectory from pluripotent stem cells to fully differentiated cells through progenitor cells.
Fig. 3: Mechanisms of cell-based therapy for cardiovascular regeneration.