• mouse embryonic stem cells;
  • cell therapy;
  • myocardial infarction;
  • immunosuppression;
  • rat


It has recently been suggested that the infarcted rat heart microenvironment could direct pluripotent mouse embryonic stem cells to differentiate into cardiomyocytes through an in situ paracrine action. To investigate whether the heart can function as a cardiogenic niche and confer an immune privilege to embryonic stem cells, we assessed the cardiac differentiation potential of undifferentiated mouse embryonic stem cells (mESC) injected into normal, acutely or chronically infarcted rat hearts. We found that mESC survival depended on immunosuppression both in normal and infarcted hearts. However, upon Cyclosporin A treatment, both normal and infarcted rat hearts failed to induce selective cardiac differentiation of implanted mESC. Instead, teratomas developed in normal and infarcted rat hearts 1 week and 4 weeks (50% and 100%, respectively) after cell injection. Tight control of ESC commitment into a specific cardiac lineage is mandatory to avoid the risk of uncontrolled growth and tumourigenesis following transplantation of highly plastic cells into a diseased myocardium.