Acidic fibroblast growth factor (FGF1) and neuregulin-1 (NRG1) are growth factors involved in cardiac development and regeneration. Microparticles (MPs) mediate cytokine sustained release, and can be utilized to overcome issues related to the limited therapeutic protein stability during systemic administration. We sought to examine whether the administration of microparticles (MPs) containing FGF1 and NRG1 could promote cardiac regeneration in a myocardial infarction (MI) rat model. We investigated the possible underlying mechanisms contributing to the beneficial effects of this therapy, especially those linked to endogenous regeneration. FGF1- and NRG1-loaded MPs were prepared using a multiple emulsion solvent evaporation technique. Seventy-three female Sprague-Dawley rats underwent permanent left anterior descending coronary artery occlusion, and MPs were intramyocardially injected in the peri-infarcted zone four days later. Cardiac function, heart tissue remodeling, revascularization, apoptosis, cardiomyocyte proliferation, and stem cell homing were evaluated one week and three months after treatment. MPs were shown to efficiently encapsulate FGF1 and NRG1, releasing the bioactive proteins in a sustained manner. Three months after treatment, a statistically significant improvement in cardiac function was detected in rats treated with growth factor-loaded MPs (FGF1, NRG1, or FGF1/NRG1). The therapy led to inhibition of cardiac remodeling with smaller infarct size, a lower fibrosis degree and induction of tissue revascularization. Cardiomyocyte proliferation and progenitor cell recruitment were detected. Our data support the therapeutic benefit ofNRG1 and FGF1 when combined with protein delivery systems for cardiac regeneration. This approach could be scaled up for use in pre-clinical and clinical studies. (C) 2013 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.