Heart cells rejuvenated by enhancing telomerase in cardiac stem
26 July 2012
Damaged and aged heart tissue of older heart failure patients
can be rejuvenated by modified stem cells, according to research
presented at the American Heart Association’s Basic Cardiovascular
Sciences 2012 Scientific Sessions.
“Since patients with heart failure are normally elderly, their
cardiac stem cells aren’t very healthy,” said Sadia Mohsin, Ph.D.,
one of the study authors and a post-doctoral research scholar at San
Diego State University’s Heart Institute in San Diego, Cal. “We
modified these biopsied stem cells and made them healthier. It is
like turning back the clock so these cells can thrive again.”
Modified human stem cells helped the signalling and structure of
the heart cells, which were biopsied from elderly patients.
Researchers modified the stem cells in the laboratory with PIM-1, a
protein that promotes cell survival and growth. Cells were
rejuvenated when the modified stem cells enhanced activity of an
enzyme called telomerase, which elongates telomere length.
Telomeres are “caps” on the ends of chromosomes that facilitate
cell replication. Aging and disease results when telomeres break
off. “There is no doubt that stem cells can be used to counter the
aging process of cardiac cells caused by telomere degradation,”
Mohsin said. The technique increased telomere length and activity,
as well as increasing cardiac stem cell proliferation, all vital
steps in combating heart failure. While human cells were used, the
research was limited to the laboratory.
Researchers have tested the technique in mice and pigs and found
that telomere lengthening leads to new heart tissue growth in just
four weeks. “Modifying aged human cardiac cells from elderly
patients adds to the cell’s ability to regenerate damaged heart
muscle, making stem cell engineering a viable option,” Mohsin said.
“This is an especially exciting finding for heart failure patients.
Right now we can only offer medication, heart transplantation or
stem cell therapies with modest regenerative potential, but PIM-1
modification offers a significant advance for clinical treatment.”
Mohsin Khan, Kathleen Wallach, Travis Cottage, Michael J
Mcgregor, and Mark A Sussman. Basic Cardiovascular Sciences 2012
Scientific Sessions, Abstract # 62, Pim-1 Engineering Of Human CPCs
Increases Telomomere Length From Aged Patients With Heart Failure.