Remarkable achievements have been made in the clinical application of mechanical circulatory support and cardiac transplantation for patients with end-stage heart failure. Despite the successes, complications associated with these therapies continue to drive cardiac regenerative research utilizing stem cell based therapies. Multiple stem cell lineages hold clinical promise for cardiac regeneration-mostly through cellular differentiation, cellular fusion, and paracrine signaling mechanisms. Bone marrow-derived endothelial progenitor cells are among the most intriguing and controversial cell types currently being investigated. Formidable barriers exist, however, in finding the ideal cardiac regenerative stem cell, such as identifying specific lineage markers, optimizing in vitro cellular expansion and improving methods of stem cell delivery. Hybrid approaches of cardiac regeneration using stem cell therapies in conjunction with immunomodulation after cardiac transplantation or with mechanical circulatory support produce cutting edge stem cell technologies. This review summarizes the current knowledge and therapeutic applications of stem cells in patients with end-stage heart failure, including stem cell therapy after implantation of mechanical circulatory support and cardiac transplantation.
© 2014 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.