Allogeneic mesenchymal stem cells and biomaterials: the perfect match for cardiac repair?
Coronary heart disease is the leading cause of death worldwide with huge socio-economic consequences. Cell therapy, and particularly mesenchymal stem cells (MSC), are considered a promising option to treat this disorder, due to their robust trophic and immunomodulatory properties. However, limitations such as their low rate of engraftment and poor survival after administration into the heart have precluded their large-scale clinical use. Nevertheless, the combination of MSC with polymer-made scaffolds or hydrogels has proven to enhance their retention and, therefore, their efficacy. Additionally, their allogeneic use could permit the creation of ready-to-use cell patches able to improve their feasibility and promote their application in clinical settings. In this review, the experimental and clinical results derived from the use of MSC in cardiac pathology, as well as advances in the bioengineering field to improve the potential of therapeutic cells, are extensively discussed. Additionally, the current understanding of the heart response to the allogeneic MSC transplants is addressed.