BACKGROUND - Myocardial infarction (MI) promotes deleterious remodeling of the myocardium, resulting in ventricular dilation and pump dysfunction. We examined whether supplementing infarcted myocardium with skeletal myoblasts would (1) result in viable myoblast implants, (2) attenuate deleterious remodeling, and (3) enhance in vivo and ex vivo contractile performance.
METHODS AND RESULTS - Experimental MI was induced by 1-hour coronary ligation followed by reperfusion in adult male Lewis rats. One week after MI, 10(6) myoblasts were injected directly into the infarct region. Three groups of animals were studied at 3 and 6 weeks after cell therapy: noninfarcted control (control), MI plus sham injection (MI), and MI plus cell injection (MI+cell). In vivo cardiac function was assessed by maximum exercise capacity testing and ex vivo function was determined by pressure-volume curves obtained from isolated, red cell-perfused, balloon-in-left ventricle (LV) hearts. MI and MI+cell hearts had indistinguishable infarct sizes of approximately 30% of the LV. At 3 and 6 weeks after cell therapy, 92% (13 of 14) of MI+cell hearts showed evidence of myoblast graft survival. MI+cell hearts exhibited attenuation of global ventricular dilation and reduced septum-to-free wall diameter compared with MI hearts not receiving cell therapy. Furthermore, cell therapy improved both post-MI in vivo exercise capacity and ex vivo LV systolic pressures.
CONCLUSIONS - Implanted skeletal myoblasts form viable grafts in infarcted myocardium, resulting in enhanced post-MI exercise capacity and contractile function and attenuated ventricular dilation. These data illustrate that syngeneic myoblast implantation after MI improves both in vivo and ex vivo indexes of global ventricular dysfunction and deleterious remodeling and suggests that cellular implantation may be beneficial after MI.