Isolation and expansion of adult cardiac stem cells from human and murine heart

Elisa Messina, Luciana De Angelis, Giacomo Frati, Stefania Morrone, Stefano Chimenti, Fabio Fiordaliso, Monica Salio, Massimo Battaglia, Michael V G Latronico, Marcello Coletta, Elisabetta Vivarelli, Luigi Frati, Giulio Cossu, Alessandro Giacomello

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Cardiac myocytes have been traditionally regarded as terminally differentiated cells that adapt to increased work and compensate for disease exclusively through hypertrophy. However, in the past few years, compelling evidence has accumulated suggesting that the heart has regenerative potential. Recent studies have even surmised the existence of resident cardiac stem cells, endothelial cells generating cardiomyocytes by cell contact or extracardiac progenitors for cardiomyocytes, but these findings are still controversial. We describe the isolation of undifferentiated cells that grow as self-adherent clusters (that we have termed "cardiospheres") from subcultures of postnatal atrial or ventricular human biopsy specimens and from murine hearts. These cells are clonogenic, express stem and endothelial progenitor cell antigens/markers, and appear to have the properties of adult cardiac stem cells. They are capable of long-term self-renewal and can differentiate in vitro and after ectopic (dorsal subcutaneous connective tissue) or orthotopic (myocardial infarction) transplantation in SCID beige mouse to yield the major specialized cell types of the heart: myocytes (ie, cells demonstrating contractile activity and/or showing cardiomyocyte markers) and vascular cells (ie, cells with endothelial or smooth muscle markers).

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)911-921
Number of pages11
JournalCirculation Research
Issue number9
Publication statusPublished - Oct 29 2004


  • Adult stem cell
  • Myocardial regeneration and angiogenesis

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physiology
  • Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine


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