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Keywords:

  • relaxin;
  • myocardial infarction;
  • heart remodeling;
  • stem cells;
  • C2C12 myoblasts

Stem cell transplantation is a promising approach for treatment of the postinfarcted heart and prevention of deleterious cardiac remodeling and heart failure. We explored this issue by transplanting mouse C2C12 myoblasts, genetically engineered to express enhanced green fluorescent protein (eGFP) or eGFP and relaxin (eGFP/RLX), into swine with chronic myocardial infarction. One month later, C2C12 myoblasts selectively settled in the ischemic scar around blood vessels, showing an activated endothelium (ICAM-1 and VCAM positive). Although unable to differentiate to a muscle phenotype, these cells induced extracellular matrix (ECM) remodeling by matrix metalloprotease secretion and increased microvessel density by vascular endothelial growth factor expression. C2C12/RLX myoblasts gave better results than C2C12/GFP. By echocardiography, C2C12-engrafted swine, especially those that received C2C12/RLX, showed better heart contractility than the untreated controls. Hence, the advantage afforded by the grafted myoblasts on cardiac function is primarily dependent on their paracrine effects on ECM remodeling and vascularization.