Adult cardiac stem cells are multipotent and support myocardial regeneration

Antonio P. Beltrami, Laura Barlucchi, Daniele Torella, Mathue Baker, Federica Limana, Stefano Chimenti, Hideko Kasahara, Marcello Rota, Ezio Musso, Konrad Urbanek, Annarosa Leri, Jan Kajstura, Bernardo Nadal-Ginard, Piero Anversa

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The notion of the adult heart as terminally differentiated organ without self-renewal potential has been undermined by the existence of a subpopulation of replicating myocytes in normal and pathological states. The origin and significance of these cells has remained obscure for lack of a proper biological context. We report the existence of Lin- c-kit POS cells with the properties of cardiac stem cells. They are self-renewing, clonogenic, and multipotent, giving rise to myocytes, smooth muscle, and endothelial cells. When injected into an ischemic heart, these cells or their clonal progeny reconstitute well-differentiated myocardium, formed by blood-carrying new vessels and myocytes with the characteristics of young cells, encompassing ∼70% of the ventricle. Thus, the adult heart, like the brain, is mainly composed of terminally differentiated cells, but is not a terminally differentiated organ because it contains stem cells supporting its regeneration. The existence of these cells opens new opportunities for myocardial repair.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)763-776
Number of pages14
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - Sep 19 2003

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cell Biology
  • Molecular Biology


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