Concise Review: The Regenerative Journey of Pericytes Toward Clinical Translation

William Cathery, Ashton Faulkner, Davide Maselli, Paolo Madeddu*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview article (Academic Journal)

23 Citations (Scopus)
193 Downloads (Pure)


Coronary artery disease (CAD) is the single leading cause of death worldwide. Advances in treatment and management have significantly improved patient outcomes. On the other hand, although mortality rates have decreased, more people are left with sequelae that require additional treatment and hospitalization. Moreover, patients with severe nonrevascularizable CAD remain with only the option of heart transplantation, which is limited by the shortage of suitable donors. In recent years, cell-based regenerative therapy has emerged as a possible alternative treatment, with several regenerative medicinal products already in the clinical phase of development and others emerging as competitive preclinical solutions. Recent evidence indicates that pericytes, the mural cells of blood microvessels, represent a promising therapeutic candidate. Pericytes are abundant in the human body, play an active role in angiogenesis, vessel stabilization and blood flow regulation, and possess the capacity to differentiate into multiple cells of the mesenchymal lineage. Moreover, early studies suggest a robustness to hypoxic insult, making them uniquely equipped to withstand the ischemic microenvironment. This review summarizes the rationale behind pericyte-based cell therapy and the progress that has been made toward its clinical application. We present the different sources of pericytes and the case for harvesting them from tissue leftovers of cardiovascular surgery. We also discuss the healing potential of pericytes in preclinical animal models of myocardial ischemia (MI) and current practices to upgrade the production protocol for translation to the clinic. Standardization of these procedures is of utmost importance, as lack of uniformity in cell manufacturing may influence clinical outcome. Stem Cells 2018;36:1295–1310.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1295-1310
Number of pages16
JournalStem Cells
Issue number9
Early online date7 May 2018
Publication statusPublished - Sep 2018


  • Pericytes
  • Translational medicine
  • Cell therapy
  • Coronary artery disease
  • Regenerative medicine

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