• stem cells;
  • catheters;
  • chronic ischaemia;
  • nuclear medicine


Stem cell therapy is a new strategy for chronic ischaemic heart disease in patients. However, no consensus exists on the most optimal delivery strategy. This randomized study was designed to assess cell delivery efficiency of three clinically relevant strategies: intracoronary (IC) and transendocardial (TE) using electromechanical mapping guidance (NOGA) compared to surgical delivery in a chronic pig model of ischaemic cardiomyopathy. Twenty-four animals underwent delivery of 107 autologous Indium-oxine-labelled bone marrow-derived mesenchymal stem cells (MSC) 4 weeks after infarction and were randomized to one of three groups (n = 8 each group): IC, TE or surgical delivery (reference group). Primary endpoint was defined as percentage (%) of injected dose per organ and assessed by in vivo gamma-emission counting. In addition, troponin and coronary flow were assessed before and after MSC injection. Blinded endpoint analysis showed no significant difference in efficiency after surgical (16 ± 4%), IC (11 ± 1%) and TE (11 ± 3%) (= 0.52) injections. IC showed less variability in efficiency compared with TE and surgical injection. Overall, TE injection showed less distribution of MSC to visceral organs compared with other modalities. Troponin rise and IC flow did not differ between the percutaneous groups. This randomized study showed no significant difference in cell delivery efficiency to the myocardium in a clinically relevant ischaemic large animal model between IC and TE delivery. In addition, no differences in safety profile were observed. These results are important in view of the choice of percutaneous cell delivery modality in future clinical stem cell trials.