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Keywords:

  • mesenchymal stem cells;
  • cell transplantation;
  • myocardial infarction;
  • optical mapping;
  • ion channels;
  • gene expression

Electrophysiological Effects of Mesenchymal Stem Cell Transplantation

Introduction

Transplantation of mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs) has shown therapeutic potential for cardiovascular diseases, but the electrophysiological implications are not understood. The purpose of this study was to evaluate the impact of MSC transplantation on adverse electrophysiological remodeling in the heart following myocardial infarction (MI).

Methods and Results

Three weeks after coronary ligation to induce MI in rats, MSCs or culture medium were directly injected into each infarct. One to two weeks later, hearts were excised, Langendorff-perfused, and optically mapped using the potentiometric fluorescent dye Di-4-ANEPPS. Quantitative real-time PCR was also performed to assess gene expression. Optical mapping showed that post-MI reduction in conduction velocity (from 0.70 ± 0.04 m/s in 12 normal controls to 0.47 ± 0.02 m/s in 11 infarcted hearts, P < 0.05) was attenuated with MSC transplantation (0.65 ± 0.04 m/s, n = 18, P < 0.05). Electrophysiological changes correlated with higher vascular density and better-preserved ventricular geometry in MSC-transplanted hearts. A number of ion channel genes showed changes in RNA expression following infarction. In particular, the expression of Kir2.1, which mediates the inward rectifier potassium current, IK1, was reduced in infarcted tissues (n = 7) to 13.8 ± 3.7% of normal controls, and this post-MI reduction was attenuated with MSC transplantation (44.4 ± 11.2%, n = 7, P < 0.05).

Conclusion

In addition to promoting angiogenesis and limiting adverse structural remodeling in infarcted hearts, MSC transplantation also alters ion channel expression and mitigates electrophysiological remodeling. Further understanding of the electrophysiological impact of MSC transplantation to the heart may lead to the development of cell-based therapies for post-MI arrhythmias.