Targeting stem cell niches and trafficking for cardiovascular therapy

Nicolle Kränkel, Gaia Spinetti, Silvia Amadesi, Paolo Madeddu

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Regenerative cardiovascular medicine is the frontline of 21st-century health care. Cell therapy trials using bone marrow progenitor cells documented that the approach is feasible, safe and potentially beneficial in patients with ischemic disease. However, cardiovascular prevention and rehabilitation strategies should aim to conserve the pristine healing capacity of a healthy organism as well as reactivate it under disease conditions. This requires an increased understanding of stem cell microenvironment and trafficking mechanisms. Engagement and disengagement of stem cells of the osteoblastic niche is a dynamic process, finely tuned to allow low amounts of cells move out of the bone marrow and into the circulation on a regular basis. The balance is altered under stress situations, like tissue injury or ischemia, leading to remarkably increased cell egression. Individual populations of circulating progenitor cells could give rise to mature tissue cells (e.g. endothelial cells or cardiomyocytes), while the majority may differentiate to leukocytes, affecting the environment of homing sites in a paracrine way, e.g. promoting endothelial survival, proliferation and function, as well as attenuating or enhancing inflammation. This review focuses on the dynamics of the stem cell niche in healthy and disease conditions and on therapeutic means to direct stem cell/progenitor cell mobilization and recruitment into improved tissue repair.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)62-81
Number of pages20
JournalPharmacology and Therapeutics
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2011


  • Homing
  • Mobilization
  • Niche
  • Progenitor cells
  • Stem cells
  • Trafficking

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pharmacology
  • Pharmacology (medical)


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