Adult bone marrow (BM) contains Sca-1+/Lin−/CD45− very small embryonic-like stem cells (VSELs) that express markers of several lineages, including cardiac markers, and differentiate into cardiomyocytes in vitro. We examined whether BM-derived VSELs promote myocardial repair after a reperfused myocardial infarction (MI). Mice underwent a 30-minute coronary occlusion followed by reperfusion and received intramyocardial injection of vehicle (n= 11), 1 × 105 Sca-1+/Lin−/CD45+ enhanced green fluorescent protein (EGFP)-labeled hematopoietic stem cells (n= 13 [cell control group]), or 1 × 104 Sca-1+/Lin−/CD45− EGFP-labeled cells (n= 14 [VSEL-treated group]) at 48 hours after MI. At 35 days after MI, VSEL-treated mice exhibited improved global and regional left ventricular (LV) systolic function (echocardiography) and attenuated myocyte hypertrophy in surviving tissue (histology and echocardiography) compared with vehicle-treated controls. In contrast, transplantation of Sca-1+/Lin−/CD45+ cells failed to confer any functional or structural benefits. Scattered EGFP+ myocytes and capillaries were present in the infarct region in VSEL-treated mice, but their numbers were very small. These results indicate that transplantation of a relatively small number of CD45− VSELs is sufficient to improve LV function and alleviate myocyte hypertrophy after MI, supporting the potential therapeutic utility of these cells for cardiac repair.
Disclosure of potential conflicts of interest is found at the end of this article.