Intravenous administration of mesenchymal stem cells improves cardiac function in rats with acute myocardial infarction through angiogenesis and myogenesis

Mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs) are pluripotent cells that differentiate into a variety of cells, including cardiomyocytes and endothelial cells. However, little information is available regarding the therapeutic potency of systemically delivered MSCs for myocardial infarction. Accordingly, we investigated whether intravenously transplanted MSCs induce angiogenesis and myogenesis and improve cardiac function in rats with acute myocardial infarction. MSCs were isolated from bone marrow aspirates of isogenic adult rats and expanded ex vivo. At 3 h after coronary ligation, 5 × 106 MSCs (MSC group, n = 12) or vehicle (control group, n = 12) was intravenously administered to Lewis rats. Transplanted MSCs were preferentially attracted to the infarcted, but not the noninfarcted, myocardium. The engrafted MSCs were positive for cardiac markers: desmin, cardiac troponin T, and connexin43. On the other hand, some of the transplanted MSCs were positive for von Willebrand factor and formed vascular structures. Capillary density was markedly increased after MSC transplantation. Cardiac infarct size was significantly smaller in the MSC than in the control group (24 ± 2 vs. 33 ± 2%, P < 0.05). MSC transplantation decreased left ventricular end-diastolic pressure and increased left ventricular maximum dP/dt (both P < 0.05 vs. control). These results suggest that intravenous administration of MSCs improves cardiac function after acute myocardial infarction through enhancement of angiogenesis and myogenesis in the ischemic myocardium.