Fetal stem cells could be key in healing mother’s injured heart

Researchers including one of Indian origin has found that fetal stem cells from the placenta may help maternal heart recover after heart attack or other injury.

In the first study of its kind, the researchers from Mount Sinai School of Medicine found that fetal stem cells from the placenta migrate to the heart of the mother and home to the site where an injury, such as a heart attack, occurred.

The stem cells then reprogram themselves as beating heart stem cells to aid in its repair.

The scientists also mimicked this reprogramming in vitro, showing that the fetal cells became spontaneously beating heart cells in cell culture, which has broad-reaching implications in treating heart disease.

In the study, the researchers evaluated the hearts of pregnant female mice that underwent mid-gestation heart injury and survived.

Using green fluorescent protein in the fetuses to tag the fetal stem cells derived from the placenta, they found that the green fluorescent stem cells homed to the injured hearts of their mothers, grafted onto the damaged tissue, and differentiated into smooth muscle cells, blood vessel cells, or another type of heart cell called cardiomyocytes.

“Our research shows that fetal stem cells play an important role in inducing maternal cardiac repair,” said Hina Chaudhry, MD, Director of Cardiovascular Regenerative Medicine at Mount Sinai School of Medicine, and principal investigator of the study.

“This is an exciting development that has far-reaching therapeutic potential,” she stated.

Dr. Chaudhry’s research team has found that fetal cells may potentially be a viable therapeutic agent, both through in vivo and in vitro studies.

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The finding marks a significant step forward in cardiac regenerative medicine, Chaudhry said

The finding has been published in the current issue of Circulation Research, a journal of the American Heart Association’s (AHA).

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