Bone marrow cells used to repair damage after heart attacks

Isolating cells from a patient's blood or bone marrow may be a safer, less intensive to repair damage caused by heart attacks and peripheral artery disease than obtaining stem cells, according to Emory University researchers.

"The focus has been on stem cells, but it looks like the main beneficial effects come from transplanted cells' ability to support the growth of nearby blood vessels," says senior author Young-sup Yoon, associate professor of medicine at Emory University School of Medicine. Yoon's team focused on the molecule CD31 because of its presence on endothelial cells, which form the inner lining of blood vessels. In experiments, the researchers showed that cells with CD31 on their surfaces secrete hormones that support the growth of blood vessels.

Harvesting CD31 positive cells may have several advantages versus previous methods of treating cardiovascular disease. The cells can be prepared without the need to grow them in a dish for several days, and it may not be necessary to take large volumes of blood or bone marrow from the patient-an advantage with respect to safety. "Based on the insights gained from preclinical and clinical studies from several investigators, we view the use of CD31 positive cells as a second-generation cardiovascular cell therapy that could be a novel option for the treatment of peripheral artery disease," Yoon says.

He adds that CD31 positive cells may have potential for treating other conditions, including heart attack, heart failure and diabetic neuropathy, which his team is investigating in animal models.

- read the Emory release