The Biological Mechanisms of Action of Cardiac Progenitor Cell Therapy

Francesca Pagano, Vittorio Picchio, Francesco Angelini, Alessandra Iaccarino, Mariangela Peruzzi, Elena Cavarretta, Giuseppe Biondi-Zoccai, Sebastiano Sciarretta, Elena De Falco, Isotta Chimenti, Giacomo Frati

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


Purpose of Review: Cell therapy for cardiovascular diseases is regarded as a rapidly growing field within regenerative medicine. Different cellular populations enriched for cardiac progenitor cells (CPCs), or derivate a-cellular products, are currently under preclinical and clinical evaluation. Here, we have reviewed the described mechanisms whereby resident post-natal CPCs, isolated in different ways, act as a therapeutic product on the damaged myocardium. Recent Findings: Several biological mechanisms of action have been described which can explain the multiple therapeutic effects of CPC treatment observed on cardiac function and remodelling. These mechanisms span from direct cardiovascular differentiation, through induction of resident progenitor proliferation, to paracrine effects on cardiac and non-cardiac cells mediated by exosomes and non-coding RNAs. Summary: All the reported mechanisms of action support an integrated view including cardiomyogenesis, cardioprotection, and anti-fibrotic effects. Moreover, future developments of CPC therapy approaches may support cell-free strategies, exploiting effective pleiotropic cell-derived products, such as exosomes.

Original languageEnglish
Article number84
JournalCurrent Cardiology Reports
Issue number10
Publication statusPublished - Oct 1 2018


  • Cardiac progenitor cells
  • Cardiac regeneration
  • Exosomes
  • Non-coding RNAs
  • Paracrine effects

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine


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