Cell therapy for the treatment of heart disease: Renovation work on the broken heart is still in progress

Paolo Madeddu*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview article (Academic Journal)peer-review

4 Citations (Scopus)
56 Downloads (Pure)


Cardiovascular disease (CVD) continues to be the number one killer in the aging population. Heart failure (HF) is also an important cause of morbidity and mortality in patients with congenital heart disease (CHD). Novel therapeutic approaches that could restore stable heart function are much needed in both paediatric and adult patients. Regenerative medicine holds promises to provide definitive solutions for correction of congenital and acquired cardiac defects. In this review article, we recap some important aspects of cardiovascular cell therapy. First, we report quantifiable data regarding the scientific advancements in the field and how this has been translated into tangible outcomes according clinical studies and related meta-analyses. We then comment on emerging trends and technologies, such as the use of second-generation cell products, including pericyte-like vascular progenitors, and reprogramming of cells by different approaches including modulation of oxidative stress. The more affordable and feasible strategy of repurposing clinically available drugs to awaken the intrinsic healing potential of the heart will be discussed in the light of current social, financial, and ethical context. Cell therapy remains a work in progress field. Uncertainty in the ability of the experts and policy makers to solve urgent medical problems is growing in a world that is significantly influenced by them. This is particularly true in the field of regenerative medicine, due to great public expectations, polarization of leadership and funding, and insufficient translational vision. Cardiovascular regenerative medicine should be contextualized in a holistic program with defined priorities to allow a complete realization. Reshaping the notion of medical expertise is fundamental to fill the current gap in translation.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)206-222
Number of pages17
JournalFree Radical Biology and Medicine
Early online date6 Jan 2021
Publication statusPublished - 20 Feb 2021

Bibliographical note

It is an invited review for thematic issue so no charge is required

Structured keywords

  • Bristol Heart Institute


  • stem cells
  • cardiac repair
  • tissue engineering
  • reprogramming


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