Posts Tagged ‘myocardial infarction’

Erythropoietin (EPO) and Intravenous Iron (Fe) as Therapeutics for Anemia in Severe and Resistant CHF: The Elevated N-terminal proBNP Biomarker


Co-Author of the FIRST Article: Larry H. Bernstein, MD, FCAP

Reviewer and Curator of the SECOND and of the THIRD Articles: Larry H. Bernstein, MD, FCAP


Article Architecture Curator: Aviva Lev-Ari, PhD, RN

This article presents Advances in the Treatment using Subcutaneous Erythropoietin (EPO) and Intravenous Iron (Fe) for IMPROVEMENT of Severe and Resistant Congestive Heart Failure and its resultant Anemia.  The Leading Biomarker for Congestive Heart Failure is an Independent Predictor identified as an Elevated N-terminal proBNP.

NT-proBNP schematic diagram-Copy.pdf_page_1


Anemia as an Independent Predictor of Elevated N-terminal proBNP

Salman A. Haq, MD1, Mohammad E. Alam2, Larry Bernstein, MD, FCAP3,  LB Banko 1, Leonard Y. Lee, MD, FACS4, Barry I. Saul, MD, FACC5, Terrence J. Sacchi, MD, FACC6,  John F. Heitner, MD, FACC7
1Cardiology Fellow,  2  Clinical Chemistry Laboratories, 3 Program Director, Cardiothoracic Surgery, 4 Division of Cardiology,  Department of Medicine, New York Methodist Hospital-Weill Cornell, Brooklyn, NY

(Unpublished manuscript)  Poster Presentation


The effect of correction of mild anemia in severe, resistant congestive heart failure using subcutaneous erythropoietin and intravenous iron: a randomized controlled study

Donald S Silverberg, MDa; Dov Wexler, MDa; David Sheps, MDa; Miriam Blum, MDa; Gad Keren, MDa; Ron Baruch, MDa; Doron Schwartz, MDa; Tatyana Yachnin, MDa; Shoshana Steinbruch, RNa; Itzhak Shapira, MDa; Shlomo Laniado, MDa; Adrian Iaina, MDa

J Am Coll Cardiol. 2001;37(7):1775-1780. doi:10.1016/S0735-1097(01)01248-7


The use of subcutaneous erythropoietin and intravenous iron for the treatment of the anemia of severe, resistant congestive heart failure improves cardiac and renal function and functional cardiac class, and markedly reduces hospitalizations

Donald S Silverberg, MDa; Dov Wexler, MDa; Miriam Blum, MDa; Gad Keren, MDa; David Sheps, MDa; Eyal Leibovitch, MDa; David Brosh, MDa; Shlomo Laniado, MDa; Doron Schwartz, MDa; Tatyana Yachnin, MDa; Itzhak Shapira, MDa; Dov Gavish, MDa; Ron Baruch, MDa; Bella Koifman, MDa; Carl Kaplan, MDa; Shoshana Steinbruch, RNa; Adrian Iaina, MDa

J Am Coll Cardiol. 2000;35(7):1737-1744. doi:10.1016/S0735-1097(00)00613-6


This THREE article sequence is related by investigations occurring by me, a very skilled cardiologist and his resident, and my premedical student at New York Methodist Hospital-Weill Cornell, in Brooklyn, NY, while a study had earlier been done applying the concordant discovery, which the team in Israel had though was knowledge neglected.  There certainly was no interest in the problem of the effect of anemia on the patient with severe congestive heart failure, even though erythropoietin was used widely in patients with end-stage renal disease requiring dialysis, and also for patients with myelofibrosis.  The high cost of EPO was only one factor, the other being a guideline to maintain the Hb concentration at or near 11 g/dl – not higher.  In the first article, the authors sought to determine whether the amino terminal pro– brain type natriuretic peptide (NT-pro BNP) is affected by anemia, and to determine that they excluded all patients who had renal insufficiency and/or CHF, since these were associated with elevated NT-proBNP.  It was already well established that this pro-peptide is secreted by the heart with the action as a urinary sodium retention hormone on the kidney nephron, the result being an increase in blood volume.  Perhaps the adaptation would lead to increased stroke volume from increased venous return, but that is not conjectured.  However, at equilibrium, one would expect there to be increased red cell production to maintain the cell to plasma volume ratio, thereby, resulting in adequate oxygen exchange to the tissues.  Whether that is always possible is uncertain because any reduction in the number of functioning nephrons would make the kidney not fully responsive at the Na+ exchange level, and the NT-pro BNP would rise.  This introduces complexity into the investigation, requiring a removal of confounders to establish the effect of anemia.

The other two articles are related studies by the same group in Israel.  They surmised that there was evidence that was being ignored as to the effect of anemia, and the treatment of anemia was essential in addition to other treatments.  They carried out a randomized trial to determine just that, a benefit to treating the anemia.  But they also conjectured that an anemia with a Hb concentration below 12 g/dl has an deleterious effect on the targeted population.  Treatment by intermittent transfusions could potentially provide the added oxygen-carrying capacity, but the fractionation of blood, the potential for transfusion-transmitted disease and transfusion-reactions, combined with the need for the blood for traumatic blood loss made EPO a more favorable alternative to packed RBCs.  The proof-of-concept is told below.  Patients randomized to receive EPO at a lower than standard dose + iron did better.



In this article, Erythropoietin (EPO) and Intravenous Iron (Fe) as Therapeutics for Anemia in Severe and Resistant CHF: The Elevated N-terminal proBNP Biomarker we provides a summary of three articles on the topic and we shading new light on the role that Anemia Hb < 12 g%  plays as a Biomarker for CHF and for

  • prediction of elevated BNP, known as an indicator for the following Clinical Uses:
Clinical Use
  • Rule out congestive heart failure (CHF) in symptomatic individuals
  • Determine prognosis in individuals with CHF or other cardiac disease
  • Maximize therapy in individuals with heart failure by the use of Subcutaneous Erythropoietin (EPO) and Intravenous Iron (Fe)
Evaluation of BNP and NT-proBNP Clinical Performance
Study Sensitivity(%) Specificity(%) PPV(%) NPV(%)
Diagnose impaired LVEF3
BNP 73 77 70 79
NT-proBNP 70 73 61 80
Diagnose LV systolic dysfunction after MI2
BNP 68 69 56 79
NT-proBNP 71 69 56 80
Diagnose LV systolic dysfunction after MI12
BNP 94 40 NG 96
NT-proBNP 94 37 NG 96
Prognosis in newly diagnosed heart failure patients: prediction of mortality/survival1
BNP 98 22 42 94
NT-proBNP 95 37 47 93
Prognosis post myocardial infarction: prediction of mortality2
BNP 86 72 39 96
NT-proBNP 91 72 39 97
Prognosis post myocardial infarction: prediction of heart failure2
BNP 85 73 54 93
NT-proBNP 82 69 50 91
PPV, positive predictive value; NPV, negative predictive value; LVEF, left ventricular ejection fraction; NG, not given.
Reference Range
BNP: < 100 pg/mL13
proBNP, N-terminal: 300 pg/mL
The NT-proBNP reference range is based on EDTA plasma. Other sample types will produce higher values.
Interpretive Information
Symptomatic patients who present with a BNP or NT-proBNP level within the normal reference range are highly unlikely to have CHF. Conversely, an elevated baseline level indicates the need for further cardiac assessment and indicates the patient is at increased risk for future heart failure and mortality.BNP levels increase with age in the general population, with the highest concentrations seen in those greater than 75 years of age.14 Heart failure is unlikely in individuals with a BNP level <100 pg/mL and proBNP level ≤300 pg/mL. Heart failure is very likely in individuals with a BNP level >500 pg/mL and proBNP level ≥450 pg/mL who are <50 years of age, or ≥900 pg/mL for patients ≥50 years of age. Patients in between are either hypertensive or have mild ischemic or valvular disease and should be observed closely.15BNP is increased in CHF, left ventricular hypertrophy, acute myocardial infarction, atrial fibrillation, cardiac amyloidosis, and essential hypertension. Elevations are also observed in right ventricular dysfunction, pulmonary hypertension, acute lung injury, subarachnoid hemorrhage, hypervolemic states, chronic renal failure, and cirrhosis.NT-proBNP levels are increased in CHF, left ventricular dysfunction, myocardial infarction, valvular disease, hypertensive pregnancy, and renal failure, even after hemodialysis.Although levels of BNP and NT-proBNP are similar in normal individuals, NT-proBNP levels are substantially greater than BNP levels in patients with cardiac disease due to increased stability (half-life) of NT-proBNP in circulation. Thus, results from the two tests are not interchangeable.
  1. Cowie MR and Mendez GF. BNP and congestive heart failure. Prog Cardiovasc Dis. 2002;44:293-321.
  2. Richards AM, Nicholls MG, Yandle TG, et al. Plasma N-terminal pro-brain natriuretic peptide and adrenomedullin. New neurohormonal predictors of left ventricular function and prognosis after myocardial infarction. Circulation. 1998:97:1921-1929.
  3. Hammerer-Lercher A, Neubauer E, Muller S, et al. Head-to-head comparison of N-terminal pro-brain natriuretic peptide, brain natriuretic peptide and N-terminal pro-atrial natriuretic peptide in diagnosing left ventricular dysfunction. Clin Chim Acta. 2001;310:193-197.
  4. McDonagh TA, Robb SD, Murdoch DR, et al. Biochemical detection of left-ventricular systolic dysfunction. Lancet. 1998;351:9-13.
  5. Mukoyama Y, Nakao K, Hosoda K, et al. Brain natriuretic peptide as a novel cardiac hormone in humans: Evidence for an exquisite dual natriuretic peptide system, ANP and BNP. J Clin Invest. 1991;87:1402-1412.
  6. Hunt PJ, Richards AM, Nicholls MG, et al. Immunoreactive amino-terminal pro-brain natriuretic peptide (NT-PROBNP): a new marker of cardiac impairment. Clin Endocrinol. 1997;47:287-296.
  7. Davis M, Espiner E, Richards G, et al. Plasma brain natriuretic peptide in assessment of acute dyspnoea. Lancet. 1994;343:440-444.
  8. Kohno M, Horio T, Yokokawa K, et al. Brain natriuretic peptide as a cardiac hormone in essential hypertension. Am J Med. 1992;92:29-34.
  9. Bettencourt P, Ferreira A, Pardal-Oliveira N, et al. Clinical significance of brain natriuretic peptide in patients with postmyocardial infarction. Clin Cardiol. 2000;23:921-927.
  10. Jernberg T, Stridsberg M, Venge P, et al. N-terminal pro brain natriuretic peptide on admission for early risk stratification of patients with chest pain and no ST-segment elevation. J Am Coll Cardiol. 2002;40:437-445.
  11. Richards AM, Troughton RW. Use of natriuretic peptides to guide and monitor heart failure therapy. Clin Chem. 2012;58:62-71.
  12. Pfister R, Scholz M, Wielckens K, et al. The value of natriuretic peptides NT-pro-BNP and BNP for the assessment of left-ventricular volume and function. A prospective study of 150 patients.Dtsch Med Wochenschr. 2002;127:2605-2609.
  13. Siemens ADVIA Centaur® BNP directional insert; 2003.
  14. Redfield MM, Rodeheffer RJ, Jacobsen SJ, et al. Plasma brain natriuretic peptide concentration: impact of age and gender. J Am Coll Cardiol. 2002;40:976-982.
  15. Weber M, Hamm C. Role of B-type natriuretic peptid (BNP) and NT-proBNP in clinical routine.Heart. 2006;92:843-849.


B-type Natriuretic Peptide and proBNP, N-terminal


Anemia as an Independent Predictor of Elevated N-terminal proBNP

Salman A. Haq, MD1, Mohammad E. Alam2, Larry Bernstein, MD, FCAP3,  LB Banko 1, Leonard Y. Lee, MD, FACS4, Barry I. Saul, MD, FACC5, Terrence J. Sacchi, MD, FACC6,  John F. Heitner, MD, FACC7
1Cardiology Fellow,  2  Clinical Chemistry Laboratories, 3 Program Director, Cardiothoracic Surgery, 4 Division of Cardiology,  Department of Medicine, New York Methodist Hospital-Weill Cornell, Brooklyn, NY

(Unpublished manuscript)  Poster Presentation:

Anemia as an Independent Predictor of Elevated N-Terminal proBNP Levels in
Patients without Evidence of Heart Failure and Normal Renal Function.

Haq SA, Alam ME, Bernstein L, Banko LB, Saul BI, Lee LY, Sacchi TJ, Heitner JF.

Table 1.  Patient Characteristics

Variable No Anemia(n=138) Anemia(n=80)
Median Age (years) 63 76
Men (%) 35 33
Creatinine (mg/dl) 0.96 1.04
Hemoglobin (g/dl) 13.7 10.2
LVEF (%) 67 63
Median NT-proBNP (pg/ml) 321.6 1896.0


A series of slide showing the determination of the representation of normal NT-proBNP range
after removal of patient confounders.







N-terminal proBNP (NT-proBNP) has emerged as a primary tool for diagnosing congestive heart failure (CHF). Studies have shown that the level of

  • NT-proBNP is affected by renal insufficiency (RI) and age, independent of the diagnosis of CHF.

There is some suggestion from recent studies that

  • anemia may also independently affect NT-proBNP levels.


To assess the affect of anemia on NT-proBNP independent of CHF, RI, and age.


We evaluated 746 consecutive patients presenting to the Emergency Department (ED) with shortness of breath and underwent evaluation with serum NT-proBNP.

All patients underwent a trans-thoracic echocardiogram (TTE) and clinical evaluation for CHF. Patients were included in this study if they had a normal TTE (normal systolic function, mitral inflow pattern and left ventricular (LV) wall thickness) and no evidence of CHF based on clinical evaluation. Patients were excluded if they had RI (creatinine > 2 mg/dl) or a diagnosis of sepsis. Anemia was defined using the World Health Organization (W.H.O.) definition of

  • hemoglobin (hgb) < 13 g/dl for males and hgb < 12 g/dl for females.


Of the 746 consecutive patients, 218 patients (138 anemia, 80 no anemia) met the inclusion criteria. There was a markedly significant difference between

  • NT- proBNP levels based on the W.H.O. diagnosis of anemia.

Patients with anemia had a

  • mean NT- proBNP of 4,735 pg/ml compared to 1,230 pg/ml in patients without anemia (p=0.0001).

There was a markedly

  • significant difference in patients who had a hgb > 12 (median 295 pg/ml) when compared to
  • both patients with an hgb of 10.0 to 11.9 (median 2,102 pg/ml; p = 0.0001) and
  • those with a hgb < 10 (median 2,131 pg/ml; p = 0.001).

Linear regression analysis comparing hgb with log NT-proBNP was statistically significant (r = 0.395; p = 0.0001). MANOVA demonstrated that

  • elevated NT- proBNP levels in patients with anemia was independent of age.


This study shows that NT-proBNP is associated with anemia independent of CHF, renal insufficiency, sepsis or age.


B-type natriuretic peptide (BNP) is secreted from the myocardium in response to myocyte stretch. 1-2 BNP is released from the myocytes as a 76 aminoacid N-terminal fragment (NT-proBNP) and a 32-amino acid active hormone (BNP). 3 These peptides have emerged as a primary non-invasive modality for the diagnosis of congestive heart failure (CHF). 4- 7 In addition, these peptides have demonstrated prognostic significance in patients with invasive modality for the diagnosis of

  • congestive heart failure (CHF). 4- 7
  • heart failure 8-9,
  • stable coronary artery disease 10, and
  • in patients with acute coronary syndromes. 11-14

Studies have shown that the level of NT- proBNP is affected by

  • age and renal insufficiency (RI) independent of the diagnosis of CHF. 15,16

There is some suggestion from the literature that

  • anemia may also independently affect NT-proBNP levels. 17-20

Willis et al. demonstrated in a cohort of 209 patients without heart failure that anemia was associated with an elevated NT- proBNP. 17 Similarly, in 217 patients undergoing cardiac catheterization, blood samples were drawn from the descending aorta prior to contrast ventriculography for BNP measurements and

  • anemia was found to be an independent predictor of plasma BNP levels. 18

The objective of this study is to assess the effect of anemia on NT-proBNP independent of CHF, sepsis, age or renal insufficiency.


Patient population

The study population consisted of 746 consecutive patients presenting to the emergency room who underwent NT-proBNP evaluation for the evaluation of dyspnea. Transthoracic echocardiogram (TTE) was available on 595 patients. Patients were included in this study if they had a normal TTE, which was defined as normal systolic function (left ventricular ejection fraction [LVEF] > 45%), normal mitral inflow pattern and normal LV wall thickness. CHF was excluded based on thorough clinical evaluation by the emergency department attending and the attending medical physician. Patients with disease states that may affect the NT- proBNP levels were also excluded:

  1. left ventricular systolic dysfunction (LVEF < 45%),
  2. renal insufficiency defined as a creatinine > 2 mg/dl and
  3. sepsis (defined as positive blood cultures with two or more of the following systemic inflammatory response syndrome (SIRS) criteria: heart rate > 90 beats per minute;
  4. body temperature < 36 (96.8 °F) or > 38 °C (100.4 °F);
  5. hyperventilation (high respiratory rate) > 20 breaths per minute or, on blood gas, a PaCO2 less than 32 mm Hg;
  6. white blood cell count < 4000 cells/mm3 or > 12000 cells/mm³ (< 4 x 109 or > 12 x 109 cells/L), or greater than 10% band forms (immature white blood cells). 21

The study population was then divided into two groups, anemic and non- anemic. Anemia was defined using the world health organization (W.H.O.) definition of hemoglobin (hgb) < 13 g/dl for males and < 12 g/dl for females.The data was also analyzed by dividing the patients into three groups based on hgb levels i.e. hgb > 12, hgb 10 to 11.9 and hgb < 10.

Baseline patient data

Patient’s baseline data including age, gender, ethnicity, hemoglobin (hgb), hematocrit (hct), creatinine, NT- proBNP were recorded from the electronic medical record system in our institution. Chemistry results were performed on the Roche Modular System (Indianapolis, IN), with the NT- proBNP done by chemiluminescence assay. The hemogram was performed on the Beckman Coulter GenS. All TTE’s were performed on Sonos 5500 machine. TTE data collected included LVEF, mitral inflow pattern and LV wall thickness assessment.

Statistical analysis

The results are reported in the means with p < 0.05 as the measure of significance for difference between means. Independent Student’s t-tests were done comparing NT proBNP and anemia. Univariate ANOVAs and multivariate ANOVA (MANOVA) with post hoc tests using the Bonferroni method were used to compare NT- proBNP levels with varying ranges of hgb and age using SPSS 13.0 (SPSS, Chicago, IL). A linear regression analysis was performed using SYSTAT. Calculations included Wilks’Lamda, Pillai trace and Hotelling-Lawley trace. A GOLDMineR® plot was constructed to estimate the effects of age and anemia on NT- proBNP levels. The GOLDMineR® effects plot displays the odds-ratios for predicted NT-proBNP elevation versus the predictor values. Unlike the logistic regression, the ordinal regression, which the plot is derived from, can have polychotomous as well as dichotomous values, as is the case for NT-proBNP.


Of the 746 consecutive patients, 218 patients met the inclusion criteria (fig 1). Baseline characteristics of patients are listed in table 1. The median age for anemic patients was 76 years and 63 years for patients without anemia. One third of patients in both groups were men. The mean hemoglobin for

  • anemic patients was 10.2 g/dl as compared to 13.7 g/dl for non-anemic patients.
  • The mean LVEF of patients with anemia was 64% as compared to 67% for non-anemic patients.

Based on the WHO definition of anemia, 138 patients were determined to be anemic while 80 patients were diagnosed as non-anemic. There was a markedly  significant difference between NT-proBNP levels based on the WHO diagnosis of anemia.

Patients with anemia had a

  • mean NT-proBNP of 4,735 pg/ml compared to 1,230 pg/ml in patients without anemia (p = 0.0001).

Of the 218 patients in the study, 55 patients had a hgb of < 10 g/dl. Analysis using

  • hgb < 10 g/dl for anemia demonstrated a statistically significant difference in the NT-proBNP values.

Patients with a hgb < 10 g/dl had a mean NT- proBNP of 5,130 pg/ml

  • compared to 2,882 pg/ml in patients with a hgb of > 10 g/dl (p = 0.01)

The groups were also divided into three separate categories of hgb for subset analysis:

  • hgb > 12 g/dl,
  • hgb 10 to 11.9 g/dl and
  • hgb < 10 g/dl.

There was a markedly significant difference in

  •  the NT- ProBNP levels of patients who had a hgb > 12 g/dl (median 295 pg/ml) when
  • compared to those with a hgb range of 10.0 g/dl to 11.9 g/dl (median 2,102 pg/ml) (p = 0.0001),

and also a significant difference in

  • NT- proBNP levels of patients with a hgb > 12 g/dl (median 295 pg/ml) when
  • compared to a hgb of < 10 g/dl (median 2,131 pg/ml) (p = 0.001).

However, there was no statistically significant difference in NT-proBNP levels of patients with hgb 10 g/dl to 11.9 g/dl

  • when compared to those with a hgb of < 10 g/dl (p = 1.0).

A scatter plot comparing hgb with log NT-proBNP and fitting of a line to the data by ordinary least squares regression was significant (p = 0.0001) and demonstrated

  • a correlation between anemia and NT-proBNP levels (r = 0.395) (fig. 2).

MANOVA demonstrated that elevated NT- proBNP levels in patients with anemia was independent of age (Wilks’ Lambda [p = 0.0001]). In addition, using GOLDMineR® plots (figure 3a and 3b) with a combination of age and hb scaled as predictors of elevated NT-proBNP,

  • both age and hgb were required as independent predictors.

What about the effect of anemia? The GOLDminer analysis of ordinal regression was carried out in a database from which renal insufficiency and CHF were removed. The anemia would appear to have an independent effect on renal insufficiency. Figure 4 is a boxplot comparison of NT – proBNP, the age normalized function NKLog (NT- proBNP)/eGFR formed from taking 1000*Log(NT- proBNP) divided by the MDRD at eGFR exceeding 60 ml/min/m2 and exceeding 30 ml/min/m2. The transformed variable substantially makes the test independent of age and renal function. The boxplot shows the medians, 97.5, 75, 25 and 2.5 percentiles. There appears to be no significance in the NKLog(NT pro-BNP)/MDRD plot. Table II compares the NT-proBNP by WHO criteria at eGFR 45, 60 and 75 ml/mln/m2 using the t-test with unequal variance assumed, and the Kolmogorov-Smirnov test for nonparametric measures of significance. The significance at 60 ml/min/m2 is marginal and nonexistent at 75 ml/min/m2. This suggests that the contribution from renal function at above 60 ml/min2 can be ignored. This is consistent with the findings using the smaller, trimmed database, but there is an interaction between

  •  anemia, and
  •  eGFR at levels below 60 ml/min/m2


The findings in this study indicate that

  • anemia was associated with elevated NT-proBNP levels independent of CHF, renal insufficiency, sepsis or age.

These findings have been demonstrated with NT-proBNP in only one previous study. Wallis et al. demonstrated that after adjusting for age, sex, BMI, GFR, LVH and valvular disease;

  1. only age,
  2. valvular disease and
  3. low hemoglobin

were significantly associated with increased NT-proBNP. 18.

In our study, CHF was excluded based on both a normal TTE and a thorough clinical evaluation. In the only other study directly looking at NT- proBNP levels in anemic patients without heart failure

  • only 25% of patients had TTEs, with one patient having an LVEF of 40%. 17

BNP, the active molecule released after cleavage along with NT- proBNP, has also been studied in relation to blood hemoglobin levels. 18 In 263 patients undergoing cardiac catheterization  blood samples were drawn from the descending aorta prior to contrast ventriculography to determine the value of BNP. Anemia was present in 217 patients. Multivariate linear regression model adjusting for

  1.  age,
  2.  gender,
  3.  body mass index,
  4.  history of myocardial infarction,
  5.  estimated creatinine clearance, and
  6.  LVEF
  • found hgb to be an independent predictor of BNP levels.

In our study, patients with anemia were slightly older than those without anemia. However, both MANOVA and GOLDMineR® plot demonstrated that

  • elevated NT-proBNP levels in patients with anemia was independent of age.

Other studies have found that BNP is dependent on renal insufficiency and age. Raymond et al. randomly selected patients to complete questionnaires regarding CHF and

  1. then underwent pulse and blood pressure measurements,
  2.  electrocardiogram (ECG),
  3.  echocardiography and
  4.  blood sampling. 15

A total of 672 subjects were screened and 130 were determined to be normal, defined as

  • no CHF or ischemic heart disease,
  • normal LVEF,
  • no hypertension,
  • diabetes mellitus,
  • lung disease, and
  • not on any cardiovascular drugs.

They found

  1. older age,
  2. increasing dyspnea,
  3. high plasma creatinine and a
  4. LVEF < 45%

to be independently associated with an elevated NT-proBNP plasma level by multiple linear regression analysis. In another study, McCullough et al. evaluated the patients from the Breathing Not Properly Multinational Study

  • looking at the relationship between BNP and renal function in CHF. 16

Patients were excluded if they were on hemodialysis or had a estimated glomerular filteration rate (eGFR) of < 15 ml/min. They found that the BNP levels correlated significantly with the eGFR, especially in patients without CHF, suggesting

  1. chronic increased blood volume and
  2. increased left ventricular wall tension as a possible cause. 16

Our study was designed to exclude patients with known diseases such as CHF and renal insufficiency in order to demonstrate

  • the independent effect of anemia on elevated NT-proBNP levels.

The mechanism for elevated NT-proBNP levels in patients with anemia is unknown. Some possible mechanisms that have been reported in the literature include

  • hemodilution secondary to fluid retention in patients with CHF 18,
  • decreased oxygen carrying capacity with accompanying tissue hypoxia which
  • stimulates the cardio-renal compensatory mechanism leading to increased release of NT-proBNP. 17

The findings from our study suggest that

  •  NT-proBNP values should not be interpreted in isolation of hemoglobin levels and
  • should be integrated with other important clinical findings for the diagnosis of CHF.

Further studies are warranted

  1.  to assess the relationship between anemia and plasma natriuretic peptides, and
  2. possibly modify the NT-proBNP cutoff points for diagnosing acutely decompensated CHF in patients with anemia.


This study shows that elevated NT-proBNP levels are associated with anemia independent of

  •   CHF,
  •  renal insufficiency,
  •  sepsis and
  •  age.

NT-proBNP levels should be interpreted with caution in patients who have anemia.


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11. Omland T, Aakvaag A, Bonarjee VV. et al. Plasma brain natriuretic peptide as an indicator of left ventricular systolic dysfunction and long term prognosis after acute myocardial infarction. Comparison with plasma atrial natriuretic peptide and N-terminal proatrial natriuretic peptide.
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12. de Lemos JA, Morrow DA, Bently JH, et al. The prognostic value of B-type natriuretic peptide in patients with acute coronary syndromes. N Engl J Med 2001; 345:1014-1021.

13. Richards AM, Nicholls MG, Espiner EA, et al. B-type natriuretic peptides and  ejection fraction for prognosis after myocardial infarction. Circulation 2003; 107:2786-2792.

14. Sabatine MS, Morrow DA, de Lemos JA, et al.  Multimarker approach to risk  stratification in non-ST elevation acute coronary syndromes: simultaneous  assessment of troponin I, C-reactive protein and B-type natriuretic peptide.
Circulation 2002; 105:1760-1763.

15. Raymond I, Groenning BA, Hildebrandt PR, Nilsson JC, Baumann M, Trawinski   J, Pedersen F.  The influence of age, sex andother variables on the plasma level of N-terminal pro brain natriureticpeptide in a large sample of the general  population. Heart 2003; 89:745-751.

16. McCollough PA, Duc P, Omland T, McCord J, Nowak RM, Hollander JE, et al. B-type natriuretic peptide and renal function in the diagnosis of heartfailure:  an analysis from the  Breathing Not Properly Multinational Study.
Am J Kidney Dis 2003; 41:571-579.

17. Willis MS, Lee ES, Grenache DG. Effect of anemia on plasma concentrations of  NT-proBNP.
Clinica Chim Acta 2005; 358:175-181.

18. Wold Knudsen C, Vik-Mo H, Omland T. Blood hemoglobin is an independent  predictor of B-type natriuretic peptide.
Clin Sci 2005; 109:69-74.

19. Tsuji H, Nishino N, Kimura Y, Yamada K, Nukui M, et al. Haemoglobin level influences plasma brain natriuretic peptide concentration. Acta Cardiol 2004;59:527-31.

20. Wu AH, Omland T, Wold KC, McCord J, Nowak RM, et al. Relationship  of B-type natriuretic peptide and anemia  in patients withand without heart failure:  A substudy from the Breathing Not Properly(BNP) Multinational Study.
Am J  Hematol 2005; 80:174-80.

22. Bone RC, Balk RA, Cerra FB, Dellinger RP, Fein AM, et al.  Definitions for sepsis and organ failure and guidelines for theuse of innovative therapies in sepsis.  The ACCP/SCCM Consensus Conference Committee. Chest. 1992;101(6):1644-55.

Table Legends

Table I. Clinical characteristics of the study population

Table II. Comparison of NT- proBNP means under WHO criteria at different GFR

Table I
Variable No Anemia(n=80) Anemia(n=138)
Median age (years) 63 76
    Men (%) 27 (34) 47 (34)
    Women (%) 53 (66) 91 (66)
Weight (kg) 82.9 80.1
Chest Pain 21 (26) 3 (2)
Hemoglobin (g/dl) 13.7 10.2
Hematocrit (%) 40.5 30.5
Mean Corpuscular Volume 97 87
Creatinine (mg/dl) 0.99 1.07
Median NT-proBNP (pg/ml) 321 1896
Medical History
    HTN (%) 12 (15) 51 (37)
    Prior MI (%) 11 (14) 5 (4)
    ACS (%) 16 (20) 3 (2)
    CAD (%) 2 (1) 3 (2)
     DM (%) 18 (22) 11 (8)
   Clopidogrel 58 (72) 15 (11)
   Beta Blockers 68 (85) 27 (20)
   Ace Inhibitors 45 (56) 18 (13)
   Statins 57 (71) 17 (12)
   Calcium Channel Blocker 17 (21) 8 (6)
LVEF (%) 67 64

HTN: Hypertension CAD: Coronary Artery Disease
MI: Myocardial Infarction DM: Diabetes Mellitus
ACS: Acute Coronary Syndrome LVEF: Left Ventricular Ejection Fraction

Table II
GFR WHO Mean P (F) N NPar
> 45 0 3267 0.022 (4.33) 661
1 4681
> 60* 0 2593 0.031 (5.11) 456 0.018
1 4145
> 60r 0 786 0.203 (3.63) 303 0.08
1 3880
> 75 0 2773 > 0.80 320 0.043
1 3048

*AF, valve disease and elevated troponin T included
r AF, valve disease and elevated troponin T removed


FIGURE 1. Study population flow chart. (see poster)
FIGURE 2. Relationship between proBNP and hemoglobin. (see above)
FIGURE 3. NT-proBNP levels in relation to anemia (see above)

Supplementary Material

Table based on LatentGOLD Statistical Innovations, Inc., Belmont, MA., 2000: Jeroen Vermunt & Jay Magidson)

4-Cluster Model

Number of cases                                   408
Number of parameters (Npar)             24

Chi-squared Statistics
Degrees of freedom (df)                          71                     p-value
L-squared (L²)                                    80.2033                    0.21
X-squared                                            80.8313                     0.20
Cressie-Read                                        76.6761                     0.30
BIC (based on L²)                          -346.5966
AIC3 (based on L²)                        -132.7967
CAIC (based on L²)                       -417.5966

Model for Clusters
 Intercept                Cluster1      Cluster2     Cluster3     Cluster4     Wald     p-value
————–           0.1544           0.1434        0.0115        -0.3093     1.1981     0.75
Cluster Size           0.2870          0.2838       0.2487          0.1805

< 1.5                       0.0843           0.2457       0.0006          0.0084
1.6-2.5                   0.6179            0.6458       0.0709          0.2809
2.5-3.5                  0.2848           0.1067         0.5319          0.5883
> 3.5                      0.0130           0.0018         0.3966         0.1224
> 90                     0.1341             0.7919         0.0063         0.6106
61-90                  0.6019            0.2040          0.1633         0.3713
41-60                  0.2099            0.0041          0.3317         0.0175
< 41                     0.0542            0.0001         0.4987        0.0006
under 51           0.0668           0.5646          0.0568        0.0954
51-70                 0.3462            0.3602          0.3271         0.3880
over 70             0.5870            0.0752          0.6161         0.5166
No anemia      0.7518             0.6556          0.2041         0.0998
Anemia            0.2482             0.3444          0.7959         0.9002

———          Cluster1          Cluster2      Cluster3      Cluster4
Overall           0.2870            0.2838         0.2487        0.1805

< 1.5                0.2492              0.7379           0.0013         0.0116
1.6-2.5            0.4163               0.4243           0.0427        0.1167
2.6-3.5           0.2296               0.0887          0.3723        0.3095
> 3.5              0.0328                0.0023          0.7982        0.1666
> 90              0.1001                0.5998           0.0043        0.2958
61-90           0.5198                 0.1716           0.1136         0.1950
41-60           0.3860                 0.0055          0.5847         0.0238
< 41             0.1205                  0.0002          0.8785         0.0008
< 51            0.0720                 0.7458           0.0910          0.0912
51-70         0.3036                 0.3084           0.2013          0.1867
over 70     0.3773                  0.0409          0.3633           0.2186
No anemia 0.4589              0.3957           0.1076           0.0378
Anemia     0.1342                 0.1844            0.3742           0.3073

Hemoglobin on NT proBNP 3


The effect of correction of mild anemia in severe, resistant congestive heart failure using subcutaneous erythropoietin and intravenous iron: a randomized controlled study

Donald S Silverberg, MDa; Dov Wexler, MDa; David Sheps, MDa; Miriam Blum, MDa; Gad Keren, MDa; Ron Baruch, MDa; Doron Schwartz, MDa; Tatyana Yachnin, MDa; Shoshana Steinbruch, RNa; Itzhak Shapira, MDa; Shlomo Laniado, MDa; Adrian Iaina, MDa

J Am Coll Cardiol. 2001;37(7):1775-1780. doi:10.1016/S0735-1097(01)01248-7


This is a randomized controlled study of anemic patients with severe congestive heart failure (CHF) to assess the effect of correction of the anemia on cardiac and renal function and hospitalization.


Although mild anemia occurs frequently in patients with CHF, there is very little information about the effect of correcting it with erythropoietin (EPO) and intravenous iron.


Thirty-two patients with moderate to severe CHF (New York Heart Association [NYHA] class III to IV)
who had a left ventricular ejection fraction (LVEF) of 40% despite maximally tolerated doses of CHF medications and
  • whose hemoglobin (Hb) levels were persistently between 10.0 and 11.5 g% were randomized into two groups.
Group A (16 patients) received subcutaneous EPO and IV iron to increase the level of Hb to at least 12.5 g%. In Group B (16 patients) the anemia was not treated. The doses of all the CHF medications were maintained at the maximally tolerated levels except for oral and intravenous (IV) furosemide, whose doses were increased or decreased according to the clinical need.


Over a mean of 8.2 +/- 2.6 months,
  • four patients in Group B and none in Group A died of CHF-related illnesses.
  • The mean NYHA class improved by 42.1% in A and worsened by 11.4% in B.
  • The LVEF increased by 5.5% in A and decreased by 5.4% in B.
  • The serum creatinine did not change in A and increased by 28.6% in B.
  • The need for oral and IV furosemide decreased by 51.3% and 91.3% respectively in A and increased by 28.5% and 28.0% respectively in B.
  • The number of days spent in hospital compared with the same period of time before entering the study decreased by 79.0% in A and increased by 57.6% in B.


When anemia in CHF is treated with EPO and IV iron, a marked improvement in cardiac and patient function is seen,
  • associated with less hospitalization and renal impairment and less need for diuretics. (J Am Coll Cardiol 2001;37:1775– 80)

Anemia of any cause is known to be capable of causing congestive heart failure (CHF) (1). In patients hospitalized with CHF the 

  • mean hemoglobin (Hb) is about 12 g% (2,3),

which is considered the lower limit of normal in adults (4). Thus, anemia appears to be

common in CHF. Recently, in 142 patients in our special CHF outpatient clinic, we found that

  • as the CHF worsened, the mean Hb concentration decreased, from 13.7 g% in mild CHF (New York Heart Association [NYHA] class I) to 10.9 g% in severe CHF (NYHA 4), and
  • the prevalence of a Hb 12 g% increased from 9.1% in patients with NYHA 1 to 79.1% in those with NYHA 4 (5).
The Framingham Study has shown that anemia is an
  • independent risk factor for the production of CHF (6).
Despite this association of CHF with anemia,
  • its role is not mentioned in the 1999 U.S. guidelines for the diagnosis and treatment of CHF (7), and
  • many studies consider anemia to be only a rare contributing cause of hospitalization for CHF (8,9).
Recently, we performed a study in which the anemia of severe CHF that was resistant to maximally tolerated doses of standard medications
  • was corrected with a combination of subcutaneous (sc) erythropoietin (EPO) and intravenous iron (IV Fe) (5).
We have found this combination to be safe, effective and additive
  • in the correction of the anemia of chronic renal failure (CRF) in both
  • the predialysis period (10) and the dialysis period (11).
The IV Fe appears to be more effective than oral iron (12,13). In our previous study of CHF patients (5), the treatment resulted in
  • improved cardiac function,
  • improved NYHA functional class,
  • increased glomerular filtration rate,
  • a marked reduction in the need for diuretics and
  • a 92% reduction in the hospitalization rate
compared with a similar time period before the intervention. In the light of these positive results, a prospective randomized study was undertaken
  • to determine the effects of the correction of anemia in severe symptomatic CHF resistant to maximally tolerated CHF medication.

Abbreviations and Acronyms

CABG coronary artery bypass graft
CHF congestive heart failure
CRF chronic renal failure
EPO erythropoietin
%Fe Sat percent iron saturation
GFR glomerular filtration rate
Hb hemoglobin
Hct hematocrit
IU international units
IV intravenous
LVEF left ventricular ejection fraction
NYHA New York Heart Association
PA pulmonary artery
sc subcutaneous
SOLVD Studies Of Left Ventricular Dysfunction


Patients.Thirty-two patients with CHF were studied. Before the study, the patients were treated for least six months in the CHF clinic with

  • maximally tolerated doses of angiotensin-converting enzyme inhibitors, the beta-blockers bisoprolol or carvedilol, aldospirone, long-acting nitrates, digoxin and oral and intravenous (IV) furosemide.

In some patients these agents could not be given because of contraindications and in others they had to be stopped because of side effects. Despite this maximal treatment

  • the patients still had severe CHF  (NYHA classIII), with  fatigue and/or shortness of breath  on even mild exertion or at rest.  All had levels of
  • Hb in the range of 10 to 11.5 g%  on at least three consecutive visits over a three-week period.
  • All had a LVEF of 40%.

Secondary causes of anemia including hypothyroidism, and folic acid and vitamin B12 deficiency were ruled out and

  • there was no clinical evidence of gastrointestinal bleeding.

The patients were randomized consecutively into two groups:

  • Group A, 16 patients, was treated with sc EPO and IV Fe to achieve a target Hb of at least 12.5 g%.
  • Group B, 16 patients, did not receive the EPO and IV Fe.

Treatment protocol for correction of anemia.

All patients in Group A received the combination of sc EPO and IV Fe. The EPO was given once a week at a starting dose of 4,000 international units (IU) per week  and
the dose was increased  to two  or  three  times a week or decreased to once every few weeks as  necessary

  • to achieve and maintain a target Hb of 12.5 g%.

The IV Fe (Venofer-Vifor International, Switzerland), a ferric sucrose product, was given in a dose of 200 mg IV in 150 ml saline over 60 min every two weeks

  • until the serum ferritin reached 400 g/l or
  • the %Fe saturation (%Fe Sat is serum iron/total iron binding capacity 100) reached 40% or
  • the Hb reached 12.5g%. 

The IV Fe was then given at longer intervals as needed to maintain these levels.


Visits to the clinic were at two- to three week intervals depending on the patient’s status. This was the same frequency of visits to the CHF clinic as before then,

  • potassium and ferritin and %Fe Sat were performed on every visit.
  • blood pressure was measured by an electronic device on every visit.
  • LVEF was measured initially and at four- to six-month intervals by MUGA radioisotope ventriculography.

This technique measures

  • the amount of blood in the ventricle at the end of systole and at the end of diastole, thus giving
  • a very accurate assessment of the ejection fraction.

It has been shown to be an accurate and reproducible method of measuring the ejection fraction (14).  Hospital records were reviewed at the end of the intervention period to compare

  • the number of days hospitalized during the study with 
  • the number of days hospitalized during a similar period 
    • when the patients were treated in the CHF clinic before the initial randomization and entry into the study.

Clinic records were reviewed to evaluate the types and doses of CHF medications used before and during the study. The mean follow-up for patients was 8.2 +/-  2.7 months (range 5 to 12 months).  The study was done with the approval of the local ethics committee.Statistical analysis.

An analysis of variance with repeated measures (over time) was performed to compare the two study groups (control vs. treatment) and

  • to assess time trend and the interactions between the two factors.
  • A separate analysis was carried out for each of the outcome parameters.
  • The Mann-Whitney test was used to compare the change in NYHA class between two groups.

All the statistical analysis was performed by SPSS (version 10).


The mean age in Group A (EPO and Fe) was 75.3 +/-  14.6 years and in group B was 72.2 +/-  9.9 years. There were 11 and 12 men in Groups A and B, respectively.
Before the study the two groups were similar in
  1. cardiac function,
  2. comorbidities,
  3. laboratory investigations and
  4. medications
  • (Tables 1, 2 and 3), except for IV furosemide (Table 3),
which was higher in the treatment group. The mean NYHA class of Group A before the study was 3.8  0.4 and was 3.5  0.5 in Group B. The contributing factors to CHF in Groups A and B, respectively, are seen in Table 1 and were similar.
Table 1. Medical Conditions and Contributing Factors to Congestive Heart Failure in the 16 Patients Treated for the Anemia and in the 16 Controls

Table 1 medical conditions heart failure anemia

Table 2. The Effect of Correction of Anemia by Intravenous Iron and Erythropoietin Therapy on Various Parameters in 16 Patients in the Treatment (A) and 16 in the Control (B) Group

Table 2 medications to treat heart failure anemia

p values are given for analysis of variance with repeated measures and for independent t tests for comparison of baseline levels between the two groups.
BP  blood pressure; Fe Sat  iron saturation; Hb  hemoglobin; IV  intravenous; NS  not stated; Std Dev.  standard deviation.

The main contributing factors to CHF were considered to be

  • ischemic heart disease (IHD) in 11 and 10 patients respectively,
  • hypertension in two and two patients,
  • valvular heart disease in twoand two patients, and
  • idiopathic cardiomyopathy in one and two patients, respectively.

A significant change after treatment was observed in the two groups in the following parameters:

  • IV furosemide,
  • days in hospital,
  • Hb,
  • ejection fraction,
  • serum creatinine and
  • serum ferritin.
In addition, the interaction between the study group and time trend was significant in all measurements except for blood pressure and %Fe Sat. This interaction indicates that
  • the change over time was significantly different in the two groups.
Table 3. The Effect of Correction of Anemia by Intravenous Iron and Erythropoietin Therapy on Various Parameters in 16 Patients in the Treatment (A) and 16 in the Control (B) Group

Table 3  CHF aneia EPO

p values are given for analysis of variance with repeated measures and for independent t tests for comparison of baseline levels between the two groups.
BP  blood pressure; Fe Sat  iron saturation; Hb  hemoglobin; IV  intravenous; NS  not stated; Std Dev.  standard deviation.

We find in the comparisons of Tables 2 and 3:

  1. before treatment the level of oral furosemide was higher in the control group (136.2 mg/day) compared with the treatment group (132.2 mg/day).
  2. after treatment, while the dose of oral furosemide of the treated patients was reduced  to 64.4 mg/day
  • the dose of the nontreated patients was increased to 175 mg/day.

The same results of improvement in the treated group and deterioration in the control group are expressed in the following parameters:

  1. IV furosemide, days in hospital,
  2. Hb,
  3. ejection fraction and
  4. serum creatinine.

The NYHA class was

  • 3.8 +/- 0.4 before treatment and 2.2 +/- 0.7 after treatment in Group A  (delta mean = – 1.6) and
  • 3.5 +/-  0.7 before treatment and 3.9 +/- 0.3 after treatment in Group B. (delta mean = 0.4)

The improvement in NYHA class was significantly higher (p < 0.0001) in the treatment group compared with the control group (Table 4).

Table 4. Changes from Baseline to Final New York Heart Association (NYHA) Class
Initial minus final

Table 4  changes from NYHA baseline  CHF anemia

The improvement in NYHA class was statistically higher (p <  0.0001) in the treatment group compared with control.

There were no deaths in Group A and four deaths in Group B.

Case 1: A 71-year-old woman with severe mitral insufficiency and severe pulmonary hypertension  (a pulmonary artery [PA] pressure of 75 mm Hg) had persistent NYHA 4 CHF  and died during mitral valve surgery  seven months after onset of the study. She was hospitalized for 21 days  in the seven months before randomization and for 28 days  during the seven months after randomization.

Case 2:

A 62-year-old man with a longstanding history of hypertension complicated by IHD, coronary artery bypass graft (CABG) and atrial fibrillation had persistent NYHA 4 CHF  and a PA pressure of 35 mm Hg,  and died from pneumonia and septic shock eight months after onset of the study. He was hospitalized for seven days in the eight months before randomization and for 21 days during the eight months  after

Case 3:
A 74-year old man with IHD, CABG, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, a history of heavy smoking and diabetes had persistent NYHA 4 CHF and a PA pressure of  28 mm Hg, and died of pulmonary  edema and cardiogenic shock nine months after onset of the study. He was hospitalized for 14 days in the nine months before  randomization and for 41 days during the nine months after randomization.

Case 4:
A 74-year-old man with a history of IHD, CABG, diabetes, dyslipidemia, hypertension and atrial fibrillation, had persistent NYHA 4 CHF and a PA pressure of 30 mm Hg,  and died of pneumonia and septic shock   six months after onset of the study. He was hospitalized for five days in the six months before randomization and for 16 days during the nine months after randomization.


 Main findings.

The main finding of the present study is that the correction of

  • even mild anemia in patients with symptoms of very severe CHF despite being on maximally tolerated drug therapy
  • resulted in a significant improvement in their cardiac function and NYHA functional class.

There  was also a large

  • reduction in the number of days of  hospitalization compared with a similar period before the  intervention.
  • all this was achieved despite a marked reduction in the dose of oral and IV furosemide.

In the group in whom the anemia was not treated, four  patients died during the study. In all four cases

  • the CHF was unremitting and contributed to the deaths. 

In addition,  for the group as a whole, 

  • the LVEF, the NYHA class and  the renal function worsened.

There was also need for

  • increased oral and IV furosemide as well as increased  hospitalization.

Study limitations.

The major limitations of this study are

  1. the smallness of the sample size and
  2. the fact that randomization and treatment were not done in a blinded fashion.

Nevertheless, the two groups were almost identical in

  1. cardiac, renal and anemia status;
  2. in the types and doses of medication they were taking before and during the intervention and
  3. in the number of hospitalization days before the intervention.

Although the results of this study, like those of  our previous uncontrolled study (5), suggest that

  • anemia may play an important role in the mortality and morbidity of  CHF,
  • a far larger double-blinded controlled study should be carried out to verify our findings.

Anemia as a risk factor for hospitalization and death in CHF.

Our results are consistent with a recent analysis of 91,316 patients hospitalized with CHF (15). Anemia was found to be a stronger predictor of

  • the need for early rehospitalization than  was hypertension,  IHD or the presence of a previous CABG.  

A recent analysis of the Studies Of Left Ventricular Dysfunction (SOLVD) (16) showed that

  • the level of hematocrit (Hct) was an independent risk factor for mortality.

During a mean follow-up of 33 months the mortality was

  • 22%, 27% and 34% for those with a Hct of 40, 35 to 40 and 35 respectively.

The striking response of our patients to

  • correction of mild anemia suggests that the failing heart may be very susceptible to anemia.

It has, in fact, been found in both animal (17) and human studies (17–19) that

  • the damaged heart is more vulnerable to anemia and/or ischemia than is the normal heart.

These stimuli may result in a more marked reduction in cardiac function than occurs in the normal heart and may explain why,  in our study,

  • the patients were so resistant to high doses of CHF medications and
  • responded so well when the anemia was treated.

Our findings about the importance of anemia in CHF are not surprising when one considers that, in dialysis patients,

  • anemia has been shown to be associated with an increased prevalence and incidence of CHF (20) and that
  • correction of anemia in these patients is associated with improved
    • cardiac function (21,22),
    • less mortality (23,24) and
    • fewer hospitalizations (23,25).

Effect of improvement of CHF on CRF.

Congestive heart failure can cause progressive renal failure (26,27). Renal ischemia is found very early on

  • in patients with cardiac dysfunction (28,29), and
  • chronic ischemia may cause progression of renal failure (30). Indeed, the development of
  • CHF in patients with essential hypertension has been found to be one of the most powerful predictors of
  • the eventual development of end-stage renal disease (31).

Patients who develop CHF after a myocardial infarction experience a

  • fall in the glomerular filtration rate (GFR) of about 1 ml/min/month if the CHF is not treated (32).

In another recent analysis of the SOLVD study, treating the CHF with

  • both angiotensin-converting enzyme inhibitors and beta-blockers resulted in better preservation of the renal function than did
  • angiotensin-converting enzyme inhibitors alone (26),
suggesting that the more aggressive the treatment of the CHF, the better the renal function is preserved. In the present study, as in our previous one (5), we found that the deterioration of GFR was prevented with
  • successful treatment of the CHF, including correction of the anemia, whereas
  • the renal function worsened when the CHF remained severe

All these findings suggest that early detection and treatment of CHF and systolic and/or diastolic dysfunction from whatever cause could prevent

  • the deterioration not only of the cardiac function
  • but of the renal function as well.

This finding has very broad implications in the prevention of CRFbecause most patients with advanced CRF have

  • either clinical evidence of CHF or at least some degree of systolic dysfunction (33).

Systolic and/or diastolic dysfunction can occur early on in many  conditions, such as

  • essential hypertension (34),
  • renal disease of any cause (35,36) or
  • IHD, especially after a myocardial infarction (37).

The early detection and adequate treatment of this cardiac dysfunction, including correction of the anemia, could prevent this cardiorenal insufficiency. To detect cardiac dysfunction early on, one would need  at least an echocardiogram and MUGA radio-nucleotide ventriculography. These tests should probably be done not only in patients with signs and symptoms of CHF,   but in all patients where CHF or systolic  and/or diastolic dysfunction are suspected, such as those with a history of heart disease or suggestive changes of ischemia or hypertrophy on the electrocardiogram, or in patients with hypertension or renal disease.

Other positive cardiovascular effects of EPO treatment.

Another possible explanation for the improved cardiac function in this study may be the direct effect that EPO itself has on improving cardiac muscle function (38,39) and myocardial cell growth (39,40) unrelated to its  effect of the anemia. In fact EPO may be  crucial in the formation of the heart muscle in utero (40). It may also improve  endothelial function (41).  Erythropoietin may be superior to blood transfusions  not only  because adverse reactions to EPO are infrequent, but also because

  • EPO causes the production and release of young cells from the bone marrow into the blood.

These cells have an oxygen dissociation curve that is shifted to the right of the normal curve, causing the release of

  • much greater amounts of oxygen into the tissues than occurs normally (42).

On the other hand, transfused blood consists of older red cells with an oxygen dissociation curve that is

  • shifted to the left, causing the release of much less oxygen into the tissues than occurs normally (42).

The combination of IV Fe and EPO. The use of IV Fe along with EPO has been found to have an additive effect, 

  • increasing the Hb even more than would occur with EPO alone while at the same time
  • allowing the dose of EPO to be reduced (10 –13).
  • The lower dose of EPO will be cost-saving and also reduce the chances of hypertension developing (43).
 We used iron sucrose (Venofer) as our IV Fe medication because, in our experience, it is extremely well tolerated (10,11) and  
  • has not been  associated  with any serious side effects in more than 1,200 patients over six years.

Implications of treatment of anemia in CHF. The correction of anemia is not a substitute for the well-documented effective therapy of CHF but seems to be  an important, if not vital,  addition to the therapy. It is surprising, therefore,  that judging from  the  literature  on CHF,

  • such an obvious treatment for improving CHF is so rarely considered.

We believe that correction of the anemia will have an important role to play in

  • the amelioration of cardiorenal insufficiency, and that this improvement will have
  • significant economic  implications as well.


The authors thank Rina Issaky, Miriam Epstein, Hava Ehrenfeld and Hava Rapaport for their secretarial assistance.
Reprint requests and correspondence: Dr. D. S. Silverberg, Department of Nephrology, Tel Aviv Medical Center, Weizman 6, Tel Aviv, 64239, Israel.


The use of subcutaneous erythropoietin and intravenous iron for the treatment of the anemia of severe, resistant congestive heart failure improves cardiac and renal function and functional cardiac class, and markedly reduces hospitalizations

Donald S Silverberg, MDa; Dov Wexler, MDa; Miriam Blum, MDa; Gad Keren, MDa; David Sheps, MDa; Eyal Leibovitch, MDa; David Brosh, MDa; Shlomo Laniado, MDa; Doron Schwartz, MDa; Tatyana Yachnin, MDa; Itzhak Shapira, MDa; Dov Gavish, MDa; Ron Baruch, MDa; Bella Koifman, MDa; Carl Kaplan, MDa; Shoshana Steinbruch, RNa; Adrian Iaina, MDa

J Am Coll Cardiol. 2000;35(7):1737-1744. doi:10.1016/S0735-1097(00)00613-6


This study evaluated the prevalence and severity of anemia in patients with congestive heart failure (CHF) and

  • the effect of its correction on cardiac and renal function and hospitalization.


The prevalence and significance of mild anemia in patients with CHF is uncertain, and the role of erythropoietin with intravenous iron supplementation in treating this anemia is unknown.


In a retrospective study, the records of the 142 patients in our CHF clinic were reviewed to find
  • the prevalence and severity of anemia (hemoglobin [Hb]12 g).
In an intervention study, 26 of these patients, despite maximally tolerated therapy of CHF for at least six months, still had had severe CHF and were also anemic. They were treated with
  • subcutaneous erythropoietin and intravenous iron sufficient to increase the Hb to 12 g%.
The doses of the CHF medications, except for diuretics, were not changed during the intervention period.


The prevalence of anemia in the 142 patients increased with the severity of CHF,
  • reaching 79.1% in those with New York Heart Association class IV.
In the intervention study, the anemia of the 26 patients was treated for a mean of 7.2 5.5 months.
  • The mean Hb level and mean left ventricular ejection fraction increased significantly.
  • The mean number of hospitalizations fell by 91.9% compared with a similar period before the study.
  • The New York Heart Association class fell significantly,
  • as did the doses of oral and intravenous furosemide.
  • The rate of fall of the glomerular filtration rate slowed with the treatment.


Anemia is very common in CHF and its successful treatment is associated with a significant improvement in
  • cardiac function,
  • functional class,
  • renal function and
  • in a marked fall in the need for diuretics and hospitalization.
Abbreviations and Acronyms
ACE Angiotensin-converting enzyme
CHF congestive heart failure
COPD chronic obstructive pulmonary disease
CRF chronic renal failure
CVA cerebrovascular accident
EPO erythropoietin
Fe iron
g% grams Hb /100 ml blood
GFR glomerular filtration rate
Hb hemoglobin
Hct hematocrit
IV intravenous
LVEF left ventricular ejection fraction
LVH left ventriculr hypertrophy
NYHA New York Heart Association
%Fe Sat percent iron saturation
sc subcutaneous
TNF tumor becrosis factor
ACE Angiotensin-converting enzyme
CHF congestive heart failure
COPD chronic obstructive pulmonary disease
CRF chronic renal failure
CVA cerebrovascular accident
EPO erythropoietin
Fe iron
g% grams Hb /100 ml blood
GFR glomerular filtration rate
Hb hemoglobin
Hct hematocrit
IV intravenous
LVEF left ventricular ejection fraction
LVH left ventriculr hypertrophy
NYHA New York Heart Association
%Fe Sat percent iron saturation
sc subcutaneous
TNF tumor becrosis factor

The mean hemoglobin (Hb) in patients with congestive heart failure (CHF) is about 12 g Hb per 100 ml blood (g%) (1–3), which is considered to be the lower limit of normal in adult men and postmenopausal women (4). Thus, many patients with CHF are anemic, and

  • this anemia has been shown to worsen as the severity of the CHF progresses (5,6).
Severe anemia of any cause can produce CHF, and treatment of the anemia can improve it (7). In patients with chronic renal failure (CRF) who are anemic,
  • treatment of the anemia with erythropoietin (EPO) has improved many of the abnormalities seen in CHF,
  • reducing left ventricular hypertrophy (LVH) (8 –10),
  • preventing left ventricular dilation (11) and,
    • in those with reduced cardiac function, increasing the left ventricular ejection fraction (LVEF)(8 –10),
    • the stroke volume (12) and
    • the cardiac output (12).
In view of the high prevalence of anemia in CHF, it is surprising that we could find no studies in which EPO was used in the treatment of the anemia of CHF, and the use of EPO is not included in U.S. Public Health Service guide-lines of treatment of the anemia of CHF (13). In fact, anemia has been considered
  • only a rare contributing factor to the worsening of CHF, estimated as contributing to
  • no more than 0% to 1.5% of all cases (14 –16).
Perhaps for this reason, recent guidelines for the prevention and treatment of CHF do not mention treatment of anemia at all (17). If successful treatment of anemia could improve cardiac function and patient function in CHF,
  • this would have profound implications, because,
  • despite all the advances made in the treatment of CHF, it is still a major and steadily increasing cause of hospitalizations, morbidity and mortality (18 –20).
The purpose of this study is to examine
  • the prevalence of anemia (Hb 12 g%) in patients with different levels of severity of CHF and
  • to assess the effect of correction of this anemia in severe CHF patients
  • resistant to maximally tolerated doses of CHF medication.
A combination of subcutaneous (SC) EPO and intravenous (IV) iron (Fe) was used. We have found this combination to be additive in improving the anemia of CRF (21,22).



The medical records of the 142 CHF patients being treated in our special outpatient clinic devoted to CHF were reviewed to determine the prevalence and severity of anemia and CRF in these patients. These patients were referred to the clinic either from general practice or from the various wards in the hospital.

Intervention study.

Despite at least six months of treatment in the CHF clinic,
  • 26 of the above patients had persistent, severe CHF (New York Heart Association [NYHA] class III),
  • had a Hb level of 12 g% and were on
    • angiotensin-converting enzyme [ACE] inhibitors, the 
    • alpha-beta-blocker carvedilol,
    • long-acting nitrates,
    • digoxin, 
    • aldactone and
    • oral and IV furosemide.

These 26 patients participated in an intervention study. The mean age was 71.76  8.12 years. There were 21 men and 5 women. They  all had a

  • LVEF below 35%,
  • persistent fatigue and
  • shortness

    of breath on mild to moderate exertion and often at rest, and had

  • required hospitalizations at least once during their follow-up in the CHF clinic for pulmonary edema.
In 18 of the 26 patients, the CHF was associated with ischemic heart disease either
  • alone in four patients, or
  • with hypertension in six,
  • diabetes in four,
  • the two together in three, or with
  • valvular heart disease in one.
Of the remaining eight patients,
  • four had valvular heart disease alone and
  • four had essential hypertension alone.
Secondary causes of anemia including
  • gastrointestinal blood loss (as assessed by history and by three negative stool occult blood examinations),
  • folic acid and vitamin B12 deficiency and
  • hypothyroidism were ruled out.
Routine gastrointestinal endoscopy was not carried out. The study passed an ethics committee.
Table 1. Initial Characteristics of the 142 Patients With CHF Seen in the CHF Clinic
Age, yearsMale/female,  %Associated conditionsDiabetesHypertensionDyslipidemiaSmoking

Main cardiac diagnosis
Ischemic heart disease

Dilated CMP

Valvular heart disease


LVEF,  %

Left atrial area (n 15 cm2)

Pulmonary artery pressure  (15 mm Hg)

Previous hospitalizations/year

Serum Na, mEq/liter

Serum creatinine, mg%

Hemoglobin, g%

70.1 +/- 11.1










32.5 +/- 12.2

31.3  +/- 10.3

43.1  +/-14.9

3.2  +/- 1.5

139.8  +/- 4.0

1.6   +/-  1.1

11.9   +/- 1.5

CMP  cardiomyopathy; LVEF  left ventricular ejection fraction; NYHA  New York Heart Association class.

Correction of the anemia.

All patients received the combination of SC EPO and IV Fe. The EPO was given once a week at a starting dose of 2,000 IU per week subcutaneously, and the dose was increased or decreased as necessary to achieve and maintain a target Hb of 12 g%. The IV Fe (Venofer-Vifor International, St. Gallen, Switzerland), a ferric sucrose product, was given in a dose of 200 mg IV in 150 ml saline over 60 min every week until the serum ferritin reached 400  g/liter or the percent Fe saturation (%Fe Sat: serum iron/total iron binding capacity   100) reached 40% or until the Hb reached 12 g%. The IV Fe was then given at longer intervals as needed to maintain these levels.

Medication dose.

Except for oral and IV furosemide therapy, the doses of all the other CHF medications, which were used in the maximum tolerated doses before the intervention, were kept unchanged during the intervention period.

Duration of the study.

The study lasted for a mean of 7.2  5.5 months (range four to 15 months).


Visits were at weekly intervals initially and then at two- to three-week intervals depending on the patient’s status. This was the same frequency of visits to the CHF clinic as before the intervention study.
  • A complete blood count, serum creatinine, serum ferritin and % Fe Sat were performed on every visit.
  •  An electronic device measured the blood pressure on every visit.
  • The LVEF was measured by a multiple gated ventricular angiography heart scan initially and at four- to six-month intervals.
Hospital records were reviewed to compare the number of hospitalizations during the time the patients were treated for the anemia with the number of hospitalizations
  • during a similar period of time that they were treated in the CHF clinic 
    before the anemia was treated.
Clinic records were reviewed to evaluate the types and doses of CHF medications used 
before and during the study.

Period of time that they were treated in the CHF clinic before the anemia was treated.

Clinic records were reviewed to evaluate the types and doses of CHF medications used before and during the study.  The glomerular filtration rate (GFR) was calculated from the serum creatinine by the formula: 1/serum creatinine in mg% x 100 GFR in ml/min. The rate of change of the GFR before and during the intervention period was calculated by comparing the change in GFR per month in the year before the intervention with that during the intervention.

Statistical analysis.

Mean standard deviation was calculated. One-way analysis of variance (ANOVA) was performed to compare parameter levels between the four NYHA groups. Hochberg’s method of multiple comparisons (23) was used for pair-wise comparison between two groups. A p value of less than 0.05 was considered statistically significant. In the intervention study, the significance of the difference between the initial values and those at the end of the study for the individual parameters in the 26 treated patients was assessed by paired student’s t test; p < 0.05 was considered statistically significant. All the statistical analysis was performed by the SPSS program (Version 9, Chicago, Illinois).


CHF: the whole study group.

The clinical, biochemical and hematological characteristics of the 142 patients seen in the clinic are shown in Tables 1 and 2.

  • Sixty-seven patients (47%) had severe CHF as judged by a NYHA class of IV (Table 2).
  • Seventy- nine of the 142 patients (55.6%) were anemic (Hb  12 g%).

The mean Hb level fell progressively from 13.73 +/- 0.83 g% in class I NYHA to 10.90 +/- 1.70 g% in class IV NYHA (p  0.01). The percentage of patients with Hb  12 g% increased from 9.1% in class I to 79.1% in class IV.
Fifty eight patients (40.8%) had CRF as defined as a serum creatinine  1.5 mg%. The mean serum creatinine increased from 1.18 +/_  0.38 mg% in class I NYHA, to 2.0 +/-    1.89 mg% in class IV NYHA, p  0.001. The percentage of patients with an elevated serum creatinine ( 1.5 mg%)      increased from 18.2% in class I to 58.2% in class IV.

The mean ejection fraction fell from 37.67 +/-  15.74% in class I to 27.72 +/-  9.68% (p  0.005) in class IV.

Table 2. LVEF and Biochemical and Hematological Parameters by NYHA Class in 142 Patients With CHF 
NYHA Class I II III IV  Significantly Different Pairs*

 *p  0.05 at least between the two groups by pair-wise comparison between groups.

†p  0.05 at least between the groups by ANOVA.

No. of patients





(total 142) (%)

    (7.7)    (18.3)    (26.8)    (47.2)

Hb, g%†

13.73 (0.83)

13.38 (1.26)

11.95 (1.48)

10.90 (1.70) 

1–3, 1–4, 2–3, 2–4

Serum creatinine,





1–2, 1–3, 1–4


    (0.38)     (0.29)      (0.38)     (1.89)

LVEF, %†

37.67 (15.74)

32.88 (12.41)

32.02 (10.99)

27.72 (9.68)

1–4, 2–4

Hb 12 g%,  (%)


5 (19.2) 

20 (52.6) 

53 (79.1)

Serum creatinine

    2      5     12     39

1.5 mg%,  (%) 





The intervention study: medications.

The percentage of patients receiving each CHF medication before and after the intervention period and the reasons for not receiving  them are seen in Table 3.

Table 3. Number (%) of the 26 Patients Taking Each Type of Medication Before and During the Intervention Period and the Reason Why the Medication Was Not Used

Medication    No. of Patients  (%)         Reason for Not Receiving the Medications (No. of Patients)
BP  blood pressure; CRF  chronic renal failure; IV  intravenous.

The main reason for not receiving:

  • 1) ACE inhibitors was the presence of reduced renal function;
  • 2) carvedilol was the presence of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD);
  • 3) nitrates was low blood pressure and aortic stenosis and
  • 4) aldactone was hyperkalemia.
Table 4. Mean Dose of Each Medication Initially and at the End of the Intervention Period in the 26 Patients

                                       No. of Patients                                 Initial Dose ^                 Final Dose^
Carvedilol (mg/day)                      20                                                        26.9 15.5                                   28.8 14.5
Captopril (mg/day)                          7                                                        69.6 40.0                                 70.7 40.4
Enalapril (mg/day)                        13                                                        25.7 12.5                                   26.9 12.6
Digoxin (mg/day)                          25                                                       0.10 0.07                                    0.10 0.07
Aldactone (mg/day)                       19                                                        61.2 49.2                                   59.9 47.1
Long-acting nitrates                      23                                                        53.2 13.2                                   54.1 14.4
Oral furosemide (mg/day)           26                                                      200.9 120.4                                78.3 41.3*
IV furosemide (mg/month)         26                                                      164.7 178.9                                  19.8 47.0*
*p  0.05 at least vs. before by paired Student’s t test.
^  +/-

The mean doses of the medications are shown in Table 4. 

The mean dose of oral furosemide was 200.9 +/-  120.4 mg/day before and 78.3 +/-  41.3 mg/day after the intervention (p   0.05). The dose of IV furosemide was 164.7 +/-  19.8,  178.9 mg/month before and  7.0 mg/month after the intervention (p  0.05).  

The doses of the other CHF medications were almost identical in the two periods.

Clinical results.

There were three deaths during the intervention period. An 83-year-old man died after eight months of respiratory failure after many years of COPD, a 65-year-old man at eight months of a CVA with subsequent pneumonia and septic shock and a 70-year-old man at four months of septicemia related to an empyema that developed after aortic valve replacement.
Three patients, a 76-year-old man, an 85-year-old woman and a 72-year-old man, required chronic hemodialysis after six, 16 and 18 months, respectively. The serum creatinines of these three patients at onset of the anemia treatment were 4.2, 3.5 and 3.6 mg%, respectively. All three had improvement in their NYHA status but
  • their uremia worsened as the renal function deteriorated, demanding the initiation of dialysis.

In no cases, however, was pulmonary congestion an indication for starting dialysis.

Functional results (Table 5).

During the treatment period, the NYHA class fell from a mean of 3.66 +/- 0.47 to 2.66 +/- 0.70 (p 0.05), and
  • 24 had some improvement in their functional class.
The mean LVEF increased from 27.7 +/- 4.8 to 35.4  +/- 7.6% (p 0.001), an increase of 27.8%.
Compared with a similar period of time before the onset of the anemia treatment, the mean number of hospitalizations fell from 2.72 +/-  1.21 to 0.22 +/-  0.65 per patient (p   0.05)a decrease of 91.9%.
No significant changes were found in the mean systolic/diastolic blood pressure.

Hematological results (Table 5).

  • The mean hematocrit (Hct) increased from 30.14 +/- 3.12%) to 35.9  +/- 4.22% (p < 0.001).
  • The mean Hb increased from 10.16 +/- 0.95 g%) to 12.10 +/-  1.21 g% (p <  0.001).
  • The mean serum ferritin increased from 177.07 +/-  113.80  g/liter to 346.73 +/- 207.40 g/liter (p  0.005).
  • The mean serum Fe increased from 60.4 +/- 19.0 g% to 74 +/- .80  20.7 g% (p  0.005). 
  • The mean %Fe Sat increased from 20.05   6.04% to 26.14 =/- 5.23% (p  0.005).
  • The mean dose of EPO used throughout the treatment period was 5,227  +/- 455 IU per week, and
  • the mean dose of IV Fe used was 185.1 +/- 57.1 mg per month.
In four of the patients, the target Hb of 12 g% was maintained despite stopping the EPO for at least four months.

Renal results (Table 5).

The changes in serum creatinine were not significant. The estimated creatinine clearance fell at a rate of 0.95 + 1.31 ml/min/month before the onset of treatment of the anemia and increased at a rate of 0.85 + 2.77 ml/min/month during the treatment period.
Table 5. The Hematological and Clinical Data of the 26 CHF Patients at Onset and at the End of the Intervention Period

————–                                         Initial ^                                    Final^
Hematocrit, vol%                              30.14 3.12                            35.90 4.22*
Hemoglobin, g%                                10.16 0.95                              2.10 1.21*
Serum ferritin, g/liter                    177.07 113.80                       346.73  207.40*
Serum iron, g%                                  60.4 19.0                               74.8  20.7*
% iron saturation                              20.5 6.04                               26.14 5.23*
Serum creatinine, mg%                   2.59 0.77                                 2.73 1.55
LVEF, %                                              27.7 4.8                                   35.4  7.6*
No. hospitalizations/patient          2.72 1.21                                 0.22   0.65*
Systolic BP, mm Hg                       127.1 19.4                                128.9  26.4
Diastolic BP, mm Hg                       73.9 9.9                                   74.0   12.7
NYHA (0–4)                                     3.66 0.47                                2.66 0.70*
*p  0.05 at least vs before by paired Student’s t test.     ^ +/-
BP  blood pressure; LVEF  left ventricular ejection fraction; NYHA  New York Heart Association.


The main findings in the present study are that anemia is common in CHF patients and becomes progressively more prevalent and severe as CHF progresses. In addition, for patients with resistant CHF, the treatment of the associated anemia causes a marked improvement in their

  1. functional status,
  2. ejection fraction and
  3. GFR.
        • All these changes were associated with a markedly
            • reduced need for hospitalization and
            • for oral and IV furosemide.

The effect of anemia on the ischemic myocardium.

We used the IV Fe together with EPO to avoid the Fe deficiency caused by the use of EPO alone (38,39).
The Fe deficiency will cause

  • a resistance to EPO therapy and
  • increase the need for higher and higher doses to maintain the Hb level (39,40).

These high doses will not only be expensive but may increase the blood pressure excessively (41). The IV Fe reduces the dose of EPO needed to correct the anemia, because

  • the combination of SC EPO and IV Fe has been shown to have an additive effect on correction of the anemia of CRF (21,22,39,42).

Oral Fe, however, has no such additive effect (39,42). The relatively low dose of EPO needed to control the anemia in our study may explain why

  • the blood pressure did not increase significantly in any patient.

We used Venofer, an Fe sucrose product, as our IV Fe supplement because, in our experience (21,22,43), it has very few side effects and, indeed, no side effects with its use were encountered in this study.

The Effect of Anemia Correction on Renal Function.

Congestive heart failure is often associated with some degree of CRF (1–3,27–29), and

  • this is most likely due to renal vasoconstriction and ischemia (28,29).

When the anemia is treated and the cardiac function improves,

  • an increase in renal blood flow and glomerular filtration is seen (7,28).

In the present study, renal function decreased as the CHF functional class worsened (Table 2). The rate of deterioration of renal function was slower during the intervention period. Treatment of anemia in CRF has been associated with

  • a rate of progression of the CRF that is either unchanged (30) or is slowed (31–33).

It is possible, therefore, that adequate treatment of the anemia in CHF may, in the long term, help slow down the progression of CRF.

Possible Adverse Effects of Correction of the Anemia.

There has been concern, in view of the recent Amgen study (34), that correction of the Hct to a mean 42% in hemodialysis patients might increase cardiovascular events in those receiving EPO compared with those maintained at a Hct of 30%. Although there is much uncertainty about how to interpret this study (35), there is a substantial body of evidence that shows

  • correction of the anemia up to a Hb of 12 g% (Hct 36%) in CRF on dialysis is safe and desirable (35–38), and
  • results in a reduction in mortality, morbidity and in the number and length of hospitalizations.

The same likely holds true for the anemia of CHF with or without associated CRF. Certainly, our patients’ symptoms were strikingly improved, as was their cardiac function (LVEF) and need for hospitalization and diuretics. It remains to be established

  • if correction of the anemia up to a normal Hb level of 14 g% might be necessary in order to further improve the patient’s clinical state.

The Role of Fe Deficiency and its Treatment in the Anemia of CHF.

We used the IV Fe together with EPO to avoid the Fe deficiency caused by the use of EPO alone (38,39). The Fe deficiency will cause

  • a resistance to EPO therapy and increase the need for higher and higher doses to maintain the Hb level (39,40).

These high doses will not only be expensive but may

  • increase the blood pressure excessively (41).

The IV Fe reduces the dose of EPO needed to correct the anemia, because the combination of SC EPO and IV Fe has been shown to have an additive effect on correction of the anemia of CRF (21,22,39,42). Oral Fe,  however, has no such additive effect (39,42). The relatively low dose of EPO needed to control the anemia in our study may explain

  • why the blood pressure did not increase significantly in any patient.

We used Venofer, an Fe sucrose product, as our IV Fe supplement because, in our experience (21,22,43), it has very few side effects and, indeed, no side effects with its use were encountered in this study.


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Cardiology, Genomics and Individualized Heart Care: Framingham Heart Study (65 y-o study) & Jackson Heart Study (15 y-o study)

Cardiology, Genomics and Individualized Heart Care

Curator: Aviva Lev-Ari, PhD, RN

The topic of Cardiology, Genomics and Individualized Heart Care is been developed in the following forthcoming e-Book on a related subject matter:

Curators: Larry H Bernstein, MD, FCAP and Aviva Lev-Ari, PhD, RN

This e-Book has the following Parts:

Genomics and Medicine

Introduction to Volume Three
1.1: Genomics and Medicine: The Physician’s View
1.2: Ribozymes and RNA Machines – Work of Jennifer A. Doudn
1.3: Genomics and Medicine: The Geneticist’s View
1.4: Genomics in Medicine – Establishing a Patient-Centric View of Genomic Data

Epigenetics- Modifiable Factors Causing Cardiovascular Diseases

2.1 Diseases Etiology

2.1.1 Environmental Contributors Implicated as Causing Cardiovascular Diseases
2.1.2 Diet: Solids and Fluid Intake
2.1.3 Physical Activity and Prevention of Cardiovascular Diseases
2.1.4 Psychological Stress and Mental Health: Risk for Cardiovascular Diseases
2.1.5 Correlation between Cancer and Cardiovascular Diseases
2.1.6 Medical Etiologies for Cardiovascular Diseases: Evidence-based Medicine – Leading DIAGNOSES of Cardiovascular Diseases, Risk Biomarkers and Therapies
2.1.7 Signaling Pathways
2.1.8 Proteomics and Metabolomics

2.2 Assessing Cardiovascular Disease with Biomarkers

2.2.1 Issues in Genomics of Cardiovascular Diseases
2.2.2 Endothelium, Angiogenesis, and Disordered Coagulation
2.2.3 Hypertension BioMarkers
2.2.4 Inflammatory, Atherosclerotic and Heart Failure Markers
2.2.5 Myocardial Markers

2.3  Therapeutic Implications: Focus on Ca(2+) signaling, platelets, endothelium

2.3.1 The Centrality of Ca(2+) Signaling and Cytoskeleton Involving Calmodulin Kinases and Ryanodine Receptors

2.3.2 Platelets in Translational Research ­ 2

2.3.3 The Final Considerations of the Role of Platelets and Platelet Endothelial Reactions in Atherosclerosis

2.3.4 Nitric Oxide Synthase Inhibitors (NOS-I)

2.3.5 Resistance to Receptor of Tyrosine Kinase

2.3.6 Oxidized Calcium Calmodulin Kinase and Atrial Fibrillation

2.3.7 Advanced Topics in Sepsis and the Cardiovascular System at its End Stage

2.4 Comorbidity of Diabetes and Aging

Determinants of Cardiovascular Diseases
Genetics, Heredity and Genomics Discoveries

3.1 Why cancer cells contain abnormal numbers of chromosomes (Aneuploidy)
3.2 Functional Characterization of Cardiovascular Genomics: Disease Case Studies @ 2013 ASHG
3.3 Leading DIAGNOSES of Cardiovascular Diseases covered in Circulation: Cardiovascular Genetics, 3/2010 – 3/2013
3.4  Commentary on Biomarkers for Genetics and Genomics of Cardiovascular Disease

Individualized Medicine Guided by Genetics and Genomics Discoveries

4.1 Preventive Medicine: Cardiovascular Diseases
4.2 Gene-Therapy for Cardiovascular Diseases
4.3 Congenital Heart Disease/Defects
4.4 Pharmacogenomics for Cardiovascular Diseases


The Next Frontier in Heart Care

Research Aims to Personalize Treatment With Genetics

Nov. 25, 2013 7:18 p.m. ET


Two influential heart studies are joining forces to bring the power of genetics and other 21st century tools to battle against heart disease and stroke. Ron Winslow and study co-director Dr. Vasan Ramachandran explain. Photo: Shubhangi Ganeshrao Kene/Corbis.

Scientists from two landmark heart-disease studies are joining forces to wield the power of genetics in battling the leading cause of death in the U.S.

Cardiologists have struggled in recent years to score major advances against heart disease and stroke. Although death rates have been dropping steadily since the 1960s, progress combating the twin diseases has plateaued by other measures.

Genetics has had a profound impact on cancer treatment in recent years. Now, heart-disease specialists hope genetics will reveal fresh insight into the interaction between a

  • person’s biology,
  • living habits and
  • medications

that can better predict who is at risk of a heart attack or stroke.

“There’s a promise of new treatments with this research,” said Daniel Jones, chancellor of the University of Mississippi and former principal investigator of the 15-year-old Jackson Heart Study, a co-collaborator in the new genetics initiative.

Scienc e Source /Photo Researchers Inc. (hearts); below, l-r: Boston University; Robert Jordan/Univ. of Miss.; Jay Ferchaud/Univ. of Miss Medical Center

Prevention efforts also could improve with the help of genetics research, Dr. Jones said. For example, an estimated 75 million Americans currently have high blood pressure, or hypertension, but only about half of those are able to control it with medication. It can take months of trial-and-error for a doctor to get the right dose or combination of pills for a patient. Researchers hope genetic and other information might enable doctors to identify subgroups of hypertension that respond to specific treatments and target patients with an appropriate therapy.

Also collaborating on the genetics project is the 65-year-old Framingham Heart Study. Its breakthrough findings decades ago linked heart disease to such factors as smoking, high blood pressure and high cholesterol. Framingham findings have been a foundation of cardiovascular disease prevention policy for a half-century.

More than 15,000 people have participated in the Framingham study. The Jackson study, with more than 5,000 participants, was launched in 1998 to better understand risk factors in African-Americans, who were underrepresented in Framingham and who bear a higher burden of cardiovascular disease than the rest of the population. Both studies are funded by the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute, part of the National Institutes of Health.

Exactly how the collaboration, announced last week, will proceed hasn’t been determined. One promising area is the “biobank,” the collection of more than one million blood and other biological samples gathered during biennial checkups of Framingham study participants going back more than a half century.

The samples are stored in freezers in an underground earthquake-proof facility in Massachusetts, said Vasan Ramachandran, a Boston University scientist who takes over at the beginning of next year as principal investigator of the Framingham Heart Study. Another 40,000 samples from the Jackson study are kept in freezers in Vermont. By subjecting samples to DNA sequencing and other tests, researchers say they may be able to identify variations linked to progression of cardiovascular disease—or protection from it.

Each study is likely to enroll new participants as part of the collaboration to allow tracking of risk factors and diet and exercise habits, for instance, in real time instead of only during infrequent checkups.

Heart disease is linked to about 800,000 deaths a year in the U.S. In 2010, some 200,000 of those deaths could have been avoided, including more than 112,300 deaths among people younger than 65, according to a recent analysis by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. But those avoidable deaths reflected a 3.8% per year decline in mortality rates during the previous 10 years.

Now, widespread prevalence of obesity and diabetes threatens to undermine such gains. And a large gap remains between how white patients and minorities—especially African-Americans—benefit from effective strategies.

There have been few new transformative cardiovascular treatments since the mid-1980s to early 1990s, when a stream of large-scale trials of new agents ranging from clot-busters to treat heart attacks to the mega class of statins electrified the cardiology field with evidence of significant improvements in survival from the disease. One reason: Some of those remedies have proven tough to beat with new treatments.

What’s more, use of the current menu of medicines for reducing heart risk remains an imprecise art. Besides

  • blood pressure drugs,
  • cholesterol-lowering statins

also are widely prescribed. Drug-trial statistics show that to prevent a single first heart attack in otherwise healthy patients can require prescribing a statin to scores of patients, but no one knows for sure who actually benefits and who doesn’t.

“It would be great if we could make some more paradigm-shifting discoveries,” said Michael Lauer, director of cardiovascular sciences at the NHLBI, which is a part of the National Institutes of Health.

Finding new treatments isn’t the only aim of the new project. “You could use existing therapies smarter,” said Joseph Loscalzo, chairman of medicine at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston.

The American Heart Association launched the initiative and has committed $30 million to it over the next five years. The AHA sees the project as critical to its goal to achieve a 20% improvement in cardiovascular health in the U.S. while also reducing deaths from heart disease and stroke by 20% for the decade ending in 2020, said Nancy Brown, the nonprofit organization’s chief executive.

The Jackson study has already identified characteristics of cardiovascular risk among African-American patients “that may have promise for new insights” in a collaborative effort, said Adolfo Correa, professor of medicine and pediatrics at University of Mississippi Medical Center and interim director of the Jackson study.

For instance, there is a higher prevalence of obesity among Jackson participants than seen in the Framingham cohorts. Obesity is associated with high blood pressure, diabetes and cardiovascular risk. Diabetes is also more prevalent among blacks than whites.

But African-Americans of normal weight appear to have higher rates of hypertension and diabetes than whites of normal weight. “The question is, should [measures] for defining diabetes be different or the same for the [different] populations and are they associated with the same risk of cardiovascular disease?” said Dr. Correa. The collaboration, he said, may provide better comparisons.

Researchers, who plan to use tools other than genetics, think more might be learned about blood pressure and heart and stroke risk by monitoring patients in real time using mobile devices rather than taking readings only in periodic office visits. For example, high blood pressure during sleep or spikes during exercise could indicate risks that don’t show up in a routine measurement in the doctors’ office.

A big challenge is making sense of the huge amounts of data involved in sequencing DNA and linking it to

  • medical records,
  • diet and
  • exercise habits and other variables that influence risk.

“The analytical methods for sorting out these complex relationships are still in evolution,” said Dr. Loscalzo, of Brigham and Women’s Hospital. “The cost of sequencing is getting cheaper and cheaper. The hard part is analyzing the data.”

Write to Ron Winslow at


The e-Reader is advised to to review tightly related articles in

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FDA Issues Warning on Regadenoson, Adenosine

Reporter: Aviva Lev-Ari, PhD, RN

Safety Announcement

[11-20-2013]  The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is warning health care professionals of the rare but serious risk of heart attack and death with use of the cardiac nuclear stress test agents Lexiscan (regadenoson) and Adenoscan (adenosine).  We have approved changes to the drug labels to reflect these serious events and updated our recommendations for use of these agents.  Health care professionals should avoid using these drugs in patients with signs or symptoms of unstable angina or cardiovascular instability, as these patients may be at greater risk for serious cardiovascular adverse reactions.

Lexiscan and Adenoscan are FDA approved for use during cardiac nuclear stress tests in patients who cannot exercise adequately. Lexiscan and Adenoscan help identify coronary artery disease. They do this by dilating the arteries of the heart and increasing blood flow to help identify blocks or obstructions in the heart’s arteries. Lexiscan and Adenoscan cause blood to flow preferentially to the healthier, unblocked or unobstructed arteries, which can reduce blood flow in the obstructed artery. In some cases, this reduced blood flow can lead to a heart attack, which can be fatal.

The Warnings & Precautions section of the Lexiscan and Adenoscan labels previously contained information about the possible risk of heart attack and death with use of these drugs.  However, recent reports of serious adverse events in the FDA Adverse Event Reporting System (FAERS) database and the medical literature1,2 (see Data Summary) prompted us to approve changes to the drug labels to include updated recommendations for use.  Some events occurred in patients with signs or symptoms of acute myocardial ischemia, such as unstable angina or cardiovascular instability.  Cardiac resuscitation equipment and trained staff should be available before administering Lexiscan or Adenoscan.  At this time, data limitations prevent us from determining if there is a difference in risk of heart attack or death between Lexiscan and Adenoscan.

We recommend that health care professionals and their patients discuss any questions or concerns.



Contact FDA

1-800-FDA-0178 Fax
Report a Serious Problem

MedWatch Online

Regular Mail: Use postage-paid FDA Form 3500

Mail to: MedWatch 5600 Fishers Lane

Rockville, MD 20857


DisclosuresNovember 20, 2013

Clinicians should avoid using the imaging agents regadenoson (Lexiscan, Astellas Pharma US) and adenosine (Adenoscan, Astellas Pharma US) for cardiac nuclear stress tests of patients with signs or symptoms of unstable angina or cardiovascular instability because the drugs may increase their risk for a fatal heart attack, the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) announced today.

The recommendation will appear on updated labels for both drugs.

The agency approved adenosine in 1995 and regadenoson in 2008 for radionuclide myocardial perfusion imaging in patients who cannot undergo exercise stress testing. Both agents dilate coronary arteries and increase blood flow to help spot blockages.

The FDA placed regadenoson on its quarterly list of drugs to monitor in September after it received reports possibly linking the drug to myocardial infarctions (MI) and death during the second quarter of 2013 through its FDA Adverse Event Reporting System (FAERS) database. The labels for both regadenoson and adenosine had previously warned of the risk for MI.

An FDA review of the FAERS database found 26 MI cases and 29 deaths that occurred after the administration of regadenoson since its approval. Six MI cases and 27 deaths turned up for adenosine following that drug’s debut.

The most common adverse events associated in fatal cases of regadenoson use included cardiac arrest, MI, loss of consciousness, and respiratory arrest. For adenosine, common adverse events linked to death were cardiorespiratory arrest, dyspnea, cardiac arrest, respiratory arrest, and ventricular tachycardia.

“At this time, data limitations prevent us from determining if there is a difference in risk of heart attack or death between Lexiscan and Adenoscan,” the FDA stated in a news release.

The agency advised clinicians to do the following:

  • Screen all candidates for nuclear stress tests to determine their cardiovascular fitness for the 2 drugs.
  • Ensure that cardiac resuscitation equipment and trained staff are available before administering adenosine or regadenoson.
  • Consider 2 other nuclear stress test agents — intravenous dipyridamole, which is FDA-approved for this use, and dobutamine, which is not FDA-approved.

More information on today’s announcement is available on the FDA Web site.

To report problems with regadenoson or adenosine, contact MedWatch, the FDA’s safety information and adverse event reporting program, by telephone at 1-800-FDA-1088; by fax at 1-800-FDA-0178; online at; with postage-paid FDA form 3500, available at; or by mail to MedWatch, 5600 Fishers Lane, Rockville, Maryland 20852-9787.



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Intracoronary Transplantation of Progenitor Cells after Acute MI

Curators: Larry H. Bernstein, MD, FCAP and Aviva Lev-Ari, PhD, RN


Transcoronary Transplantation of Progenitor Cells after Myocardial Infarction

Birgit Assmus, M.D., Jörg Honold, M.D., Volker Schächinger, M.D., Martina B. Britten, M.D., Ulrich Fischer-Rasokat, M.D., et al.
From the Division of Cardiology and Mo­lecular Cardiology, Department of Medi­cine III (B.A., J.H., V.S., M.B.B., U.F.-R., R.L., C.T., K.P., S.D., A.M.Z.), Division of He­matology, Department of Medicine II (H.M.), and the Department of Diagnos­tic and Interventional Radiology (N.D.A.), Johann Wolfgang Goethe University; and the Institute for Transfusion Medicine and Immunohematology, Red Cross Blood Donor Service, Baden–Württem-berg–Hessen (T.T.) — both in Frankfurt, Germany.

N Engl J Med 2006;355:1222-32.


Pilot studies suggest that intracoronary transplantation of progenitor cells derived from bone marrow (BMC) or circulating blood (CPC) may improve left ventricular function after acute myocardial infarction. The effects of cell transplantation in patients with healed myocardial infarction are unknown.


After an initial pilot trial involving 17 patients, we randomly assigned, in a controlled crossover study, 75 patients with stable ischemic heart disease who had had a myo­cardial infarction at least 3 months previously to receive either no cell infusion (23 patients) or infusion of CPC (24 patients) or BMC (28 patients) into the patent coro­nary artery supplying the most dyskinetic left ventricular area. The patients in the control group were

  • subsequently randomly assigned to receive CPC or BMC, and
  • the patients who initially received BMC or CPC crossed over to receive CPC or BMC, respectively, at 3 months’ follow-up.


The absolute change in left ventricular ejection fraction was significantly greater among patients receiving BMC (+2.9 percentage points) than among those receiving CPC (−0.4 percentage point, P = 0.003) or no infusion (−1.2 percentage points, P<0.001). The increase in global cardiac function was related to significantly

  • en­hanced regional contractility in the area targeted by intracoronary infusion of BMC.

The crossover phase of the study revealed that intracoronary infusion of BMC was associated with a significant increase in global and regional left ventricular func­tion, regardless of whether patients crossed over from control to BMC or from CPC to BMC.


Intracoronary infusion of progenitor cells is safe and feasible in patients with healed myocardial infarction. Transplantation of BMC is associated with moderate but significant improvement in the left ventricular ejection fraction after 3 months. ( number, NCT00289822.)


HRONIC HEART FAILURE IS COMMON, and its prevalence continues to increase.1 Ischemic heart disease is the principal cause of heart failure.2 Although myocardial salvage due to early reperfusion therapy has significantly re­duced early mortality rates,3

  • postinfarction heart failure resulting from ventricular remodeling re­mains a problem.4

One possible approach to re­versing postinfarction heart failure is

  • enhance­ment of the regeneration of cardiac myocytes as well as
  • stimulation of neovascularization within the infarcted area.

Initial clinical pilot studies have suggested that

  • intracoronary infusion of pro­genitor cells is feasible and may
  • beneficially af­fect postinfarction remodeling processes in pa­tients with acute myocardial infarction.5-9

However, it is currently unknown whether such a treatment strategy may also be associated with

  • improvements in cardiac function in patients with persistent left ventricular dysfunction due to healed myocardial infarction with established scar formation.

Therefore, in the prospective TOPCARE-CHD (Transplantation of Progenitor Cells and Recovery of LV [Left Ventricular] Function in Patients with Chronic Ischemic Heart Disease) trial, we inves­tigated

  • whether intracoronary infusion of pro­genitor cells into the infarct-related artery at least 3 months after myocardial infarction improves global and regional left ventricular function.

Patient Outcome Criteria

The primary end point of the study was the absolute change in global left ventricular ejection fraction (LVEF) as measured by quantitative left ventricular angiography 3 months after cell infu­sion. Secondary end points included quantitative variables relating to the regional left ventricular function of the target area, as well as left ven­tricular volumes derived from serial left ventric­ular angiograms. In addition, functional status was assessed by NYHA classification. Finally, event-free survival was defined as freedom from death, myocardial infarction, stroke, or rehospi­talization for worsening heart failure. Causes of rehospitalization during follow-up were verified by review of the discharge letters or charts of hospital stays.


All patients underwent low-dose dobutamine stress echocardiography, combined thallium sin­gle-photon-emission computed tomography and [18F]fluorodeoxyglucose positron-emission tomog­raphy, or both, as previously described.6 It was pos­sible to analyze regional left ventricular viability in 80 patients (87%).



A total of 92 patients were enrolled in the study. Of these, 35 patients received BMC as their ini­tial treatment (in phases 1 and 2 of the trial), 34 patients received CPC (in phases 1 and 2), and 23 patients received no intracoronary cell infu­sion (in phase 2, as the control group). Table 1 illustrates that the three groups of patients were well matched.


Quantitative Characteristics of Left Ventricular Function

Patients with an adverse clinical event (six), sub­total stenosis of the target vessel at follow-up (three), an intraventricular thrombus precluding performance of left ventricular angiography (one), or atrial flutter or fibrillation at follow-up (one) were excluded from the exploratory analysis. In addition, of the 81 eligible patients, left ventricu­lar angiograms could not be quantitatively ana­lyzed in 4 because of inadequate contrast opaci-fication, in 1 because of ventricular extrasystoles, and in 4 because of the patients’ refusal to un­dergo invasive follow-up. Thus, a total of 72 of 81 serial paired left ventricular angiograms were available for quantitative analysis (28 in the BMC group, 26 in the CPC group, and 18 in the control group).

Table 2 summarizes the angiographic charac­teristics of the 75 patients included in the ran­domized phase of the study. At baseline, the three groups did not differ with respect to global LVEF, the extent or magnitude of regional left ventricu­lar dysfunction, left ventricular volumes, or stroke volumes.

The absolute change in global LVEF from base­line to 3 months did significantly differ among the three groups of patients. Patients receiving BMC had a significantly larger change in LVEF than patients receiving CPC (P = 0.003) and those in the control group (P<0.001). Similar results were ob­tained when patients from the first two phases of the study (the pilot phase and the randomized phase) were pooled. The results did not differ when patients without evidence of viable myo­cardium before inclusion were analyzed sepa­rately. The change in LVEF was −0.3±3.4 percent­age points in the control group (9 patients), +0.4±3.0 percentage points in the CPC group (18 patients), and +3.7±4.0 percentage points in the BMC group (18 patients) (P = 0.02 for the com­parison with the control group and P = 0.02 for the comparison with the CPC group).

In the subgroup of 35 patients who underwent serial assessment of left ventricular function by MRI, MRI-derived global LVEF increased signifi­cantly, by 4.8±6.0% (P = 0.03) among those receiv­ing BMC (11 patients) and by 2.8±5.2% (P = 0.02) among those receiving CPC (20 patients), where­as no change was observed in 4 control patients (P = 0.14). Thus, MRI-derived assessment of left ventricular function further corroborated the re­sults obtained from the total patient population.

Analysis of regional left ventricular function revealed that BMC treatment significantly in­creased contractility in the center of the left ven­tricular target area (Table 2). Likewise, MRI-derived regional analysis of left ventricular function re­vealed that the number of hypocontractile seg­ments was significantly reduced, from 10.1±3.6 to 8.7±3.6 segments (P = 0.02), and the number of normocontractile segments significantly in­creased, from 3.8±4.5 to 5.4±4.6 segments (P = 0.01), in the BMC group, whereas no significant changes were observed in the CPC group. MRI-derived infarct size, as measured by late enhance­ment volume normalized to left ventricular mass, remained constant both in the CPC group (25± 18% at baseline and 23±14% at 3 months,13 patients) and in the BMC group (20±10% at both time points, 9 patients). Thus, taken together, the data suggest that intracoronary infusion of BMC is associated with significant improvements in global and regional left ventricular contractile function among patients with persistent left ven­tricular dysfunction due to prior myocardial in­farction.

To identify independent predictors of improved global LVEF, a stepwise multivariate regression analysis was performed; it included classic deter­minants of LVEF as well as various baseline characteristics of the three groups (Table 3). The multivariate analysis identified the type of pro­genitor cell infused and the baseline stroke vol­ume as the only statistically significant indepen­dent predictors of LVEF recovery.

Functional Status

The functional status of the patients, as assessed by NYHA classification, improved significantly in the BMC group (from 2.23±0.6 to 1.97±0.7, P = 0.005). It did not improve significantly either in the CPC group (class, 2.16±0.8 at baseline and 1.93±0.8 at 3 months; P = 0.13) or in the control group (class, 1.91±0.7 and 2.09±0.9, respectively; P = 0.27).


Of the 24 patients who initially were randomly assigned to CPC infusion, 21 received BMC at the time of their first follow-up examination. Likewise, of the 28 patients who initially were randomly assigned to BMC infusion,

  • 24 received CPC after 3 months.

Of the 23 patients of the control group, 10 patients received CPC and 11 received BMC at their reexamination at 3 months (Fig. 1). As illustrated in Figure 2, regardless of whether patients received BMC as initial treatment, as crossover treatment after CPC infusion, or as crossover treatment after no cell infusion,

  • glob­al LVEF increased significantly after infusion of BMC. In contrast,
  • CPC treatment did not significantly alter LVEF when given either before or after BMC.

Thus, the intrapatient comparison of the dif­ferent treatment strategies not only documents the superiority of intracoronary infusion of BMC over the infusion of CPC for improving global left ventricular function, but also corroborates our findings in the analysis of data according to initial treatment assignment. The

  • preserved im­provement in cardiac function observed among patients who initially received BMC treatment and
  • then crossed over to CPC treatment demon­strates that the initially achieved differences in cardiac function persisted for at least 6 months after intracoronary infusion of BMC.
 Table 1. Baseline Characteristics of the Patients.* (not copied)  

Table 2. Quantitative Variables Pertaining to Left Ventricular Function, as Assessed by Left Ventricular Angiography.*

copy protected

Figure 2. Absolute Change in Quantitative Global Left Ventricular Ejection Fraction (LVEF) during the Crossover Phase of the Trial.

Data at 3 and 6 months are shown for all patients crossing over from BMC to CPC infusion (18 patients), from CPC to BMC infusion
(18 patients), and from no cell infusion to either CPC infusion (10 patients) or BMC infusion (11 patients). I bars represent standard

Table 3. Stepwise Linear Regression Analysis for Predictors of Improvement in Global Left Ventricular Ejection Fraction.*

Variable Nonstandardized Coefficient B

95% CI for B

P Value

Treatment group


0.53 to 2.46

Baseline stroke volume


−0.22 to –0.05

No. of cardiovascular risk factors 0.76
Time since most recent MI 0.48
Concomitant PCI 0.60
Age 0.82
Baseline ejection fraction 0.72
Baseline end-diastolic volume 0.88

* Values are shown only for significant differences. MI denotes myocardial infarc­tion, and PCI percutaneous coronary intervention. For the overall model, the ad­justed R2 was 0.29; P<0.001 by analysis of variance.



Intrapatient comparison in the crossover phase of the trial rules out the possibility that differences in the patient populations studied may have affected outcomes. However, the mechanisms involved in mediating improved contractile function after intracoronary progenitor-cell infusion are not well understood.

Experimentally, although there is no definitive proof that cardiac myocytes may be regenerated, BMC were shown to contribute to functional re­covery of left ventricular contraction when in­jected into freshly infarcted hearts,13-15 whereas CPC profoundly stimulated ischemia-induced neovascularization.16,17 Both cell types were shown to prevent cardiomyocyte apoptosis and reduce the development of myocardial fibrosis and there­by improve cardiac function after acute myocar­dial infarction.18,19 Indeed, in our TOPCARE-AMI (Transplantation of Progenitor Cells and Regen­eration Enhancement in Acute Myocardial Infarc­tion) studies,6,7,9 intracoronary infusion of CPC was associated with functional improvements similar to those found with the use of BMC im­mediately after myocardial infarction. In the cur­rent study, however, which involved patients who had had a myocardial infarction at least 3 months before therapy,

  • transcoronary adminis­tration of CPC was significantly inferior to administration of BMC in altering global left ven­tricular function.

CPC obtained from patients with chronic ischemic heart disease show pro­found functional impairments,20,21 which might limit their recruitment, after intracoronary infu­sion, into chronically reperfused scar tissue many months or years after myocardial infarction. Thus, additional studies in which larger numbers of functionally enhanced CPC are used will be re­quired to increase the response to intracoronary infusion of CPC.

The magnitude of the improvement after in-tracoronary infusion of BMC, with absolute increases in global LVEF of approximately 2.9 percentage points according to left ventricular angiography and 4.8 percentage points accord­ing to MRI, was modest. However, it should be noted that the improvement in LVEF occurred in the setting of full conventional pharmacologic treatment: more than 90% of the patients were receiving beta-blocker and angiotensin-convert-ing–enzyme inhibitor treatment. Moreover, results from trials of contemporary reperfusion for the treatment of acute myocardial infarction, which is regarded as the most effective treatment strat­egy for improving left ventricular contractile per­formance after ischemic injury, have reported in­creases in global LVEF of 2.8% (in the CADILLAC [Controlled Abciximab and Device Investigation to Lower Late Angioplasty Complications] trial) and 4.1% (in the ADMIRAL [Abciximab before Direct Angioplasty and Stenting in Myocardial Infarction Regarding Acute and Long-Term Fol­low-up] trial).22,23

The number of patients, as well as the dura­tion of follow-up, is not sufficient to address the question of whether the moderate improvement in LVEF associated with one-time intracoronary BMC infusion is associated with reduced mortal­ity and morbidity among patients with heart fail­ure secondary to previous myocardial infarction. We conclude that intracoronary infusion of BMC is associated with persistent improvements in regional and global left ventricular function and improved functional status among patients who have had a myocardial infarction at least 3 months previously. Given the reasonable short-term safety profile of this therapeutic ap­proach, studies on a larger scale are warranted to examine its potential effects on morbidity and mortality among patients with postinfarction heart failure.


  1. 2001 Heart and stroke statistical up­date. Dallas: American Heart Association, 2000.
  2. Braunwald E. Cardiovascular medicine at the turn of the millennium: triumphs, concerns, and opportunities. N Engl J Med 1997;337:1360-9.
  3. Lange RA, Hillis LD. Reperfusion ther­apy in acute myocardial infarction. N Engl J Med 2002;346:954-5.
  4. Sutton MG, Sharpe N. Left ventricular remodeling after myocardial infarction: pathophysiology and therapy. Circulation 2000;101:2981-8.
  5. Strauer BE, Brehm M, Zeus T, et al. Re­pair of infarcted myocardium by autologous intracoronary mononuclear bone marrow cell transplantation in humans. Circula­tion 2002;106:1913-8.
  6. Assmus B, Schachinger V, Teupe C, et al. Transplantation of Progenitor Cells and Regeneration Enhancement in Acute Myo­cardial Infarction (TOPCARE-AMI). Circu­lation 2002;106:3009-17.
  7. Britten MB, Abolmaali ND, Assmus B, et al. Infarct remodeling after intra-coronary progenitor cell treatment in pa­tients with acute myocardial infarction (TOPCARE-AMI): mechanistic insights from serial contrast-enhanced magnetic resonance imaging. Circulation 2003;108: 2212-8.
  8. Wollert KC, Meyer GP, Lotz J, et al. In-tracoronary autologous bone-marrow cell transfer after myocardial infarction: the BOOST randomised controlled clinical trial. Lancet 2004;364:141-8.


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Three-Dimensional Fibroblast Matrix Improves Left Ventricular Function post MI

Curators: Larry H. Bernstein, MD. FCAP and Aviva Lev-Ari, PhD, RN

Implantation of a Three-Dimensional Fibroblast Matrix Improves Left Ventricular Function and Blood Flow After Acute Myocardial Infarction

Hoang M. Thai*, Elizabeth Juneman*, Jordan Lancaster*, Tracy Hagerty*, Rose Do*, Lisa Castellano*, Robert Kellar†, Stuart Williams†, Gulshan Sethi*, Monika Schmelz*, Mohamed Gaballa*,†, and Steven Goldman*
*Section of Cardiology, Department of Medicine and Pathology, Southern Arizona VA Health Care System, Sarver Heart Center, University of Arizona, Tucson, AZ,  †Theregen Inc., San Francisco, CA

Cell Transplant. 2009 ; 18(3): 283–295.


This study was designed to determine if a viable biodegradable three-dimensional fibroblast construct (3DFC) patch implanted on the left ventricle after myocardial infarction (MI) improves left ventricular (LV) function and blood flow. We ligated the left coronary artery of adult male Sprague-Dawley rats and implanted the 3DFC at the time of the infarct. Three weeks after MI, the 3DFC improved LV systolic function by increasing (p < 0.05) ejection fraction (37 ± 3% to 62 ± 5%), increasing regional systolic displacement of the infarcted wall (0.04 ± 0.02 to 0.11 ± 0.03 cm), and shifting the passive LV diastolic pressure volume relationship toward the pressure axis. The 3FDC improved LV remodeling by decreasing (p < 0.05) LV end-systolic and end-diastolic diameters with no change in LV systolic pressure. The 3DFC did not change LV end-diastolic pressure (LV EDP; 25 ± 2 vs. 23 ± 2 mmHg) but the addition of captopril (2mg/L drinking water) lowered (p < 0.05) LV EDP to 12.9 ± 2.5 mmHg and shifted the pressure–volume relationship toward the pressure axis and decreased (p < 0.05) the LV operating end-diastolic volume from 0.49 ± 0.02 to 0.34 ± 0.03 ml. The 3DFC increased myocardial blood flow to the infarcted anterior wall after MI over threefold (p < 0.05). This biodegradable 3DFC patch improves LV function and myocardial blood flow 3 weeks after MI. This is a potentially new approach to cell-based therapy for heart failure after MI.

Three-Dimensional Fibroblast Patch

Our hypothesis is that the lack of survival of new cells directly injected into the heart is related, in part, to an inadequate blood supply and inadequate matrix support for the new cells. The injected cells are fragile, resulting in cell aggregation due to lack of physical support for the cells to attach to the tissue extracellular matrix. This three-dimensional scaffold offers a potential solution to the problem of an inadequate support structure. While injection of passive materials has been proposed to improve EF potentially by decreasing wall stress (11,35), the 3DFC provides a viable cell matrix that supports new blood vessel growth (15,16). This viable cellular matrix is important because in addition to providing a new support structure for the damaged heart, we also need to create a mature blood supply such that new viable cardiac muscle can be organized in parallel forming physical and neural connections that will conduct electrical signals and create synchronized contractions. Investigators have proposed that the ideal scaffold structure for the heart would consist mainly of highly interconnected pores with a diameter of at least 200 µm, the average size of a capillary, to permit blood vessel penetration and cell interactions (5).

The 3DFC is a viable construct composed of a matrix embedded with human newborn dermal fibroblasts cultured in vitro onto a bioabsorbable mesh to produce living, metabolically active tissue (15,16) (see Fig. 1 and Fig 2). As the fibroblasts proliferate across the mesh, they secrete human dermal collagen, fibronectin, and glycosaminoglycans (GAGs), embedding themselves in a self-produced dermal matrix. The fibroblast cells produce angiogenic growth factors: vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF), hepatocyte growth factor (HGF), basic fibroblast growth factor (bFGF), and angiopoietin-1. The construct is grown in medium supplemented with serum and ascorbate; at harvest, the medium is replaced with a 10% DMSO-based cryoprotectant, the tissue is frozen and stored at −70°C. This cryopreservation and rewarming technique has been extensively studied to ensure viability of the patch. Although the mechanisms of action of the 3DFC are not completely understood, new blood vessel growth has been documented previously in SCID mice (15).

Previous work using the 3DFC as a patch for the infarcted heart in SCID mice showed histological evidence of new blood vessel growth and improvements in global LV function using a conductance catheter (16). Our data show increases in myocardial blood flow in the infarcted heart, confirming that these blood vessels are functional and that they connect to the native myocardium. We used echocardiography to document improvements in global and regional LV function. The improvements in regional LV function are important because recent work suggests that the injection of passive materials alone may be enough to reduce wall stress and increase global EF (35). In order to prove that cell-based therapy is affecting more than a passive response, the point has been made that it is necessary to be able to define regional changes in the area of the infarcted myocardium (11). We have done this using echocardiography to document that the 3DFC increases systolic displacement of the infarcted regional anterior wall (Fig. 5). Although the mechanism of action of the 3DFC has not been completely delineated, the viable fibroblasts secrete a number of growth factors, thus providing a paracrine effect to stimulate new blood vessel growth. The vicryl mesh is biodegradable such that, with dissolution, the new blood vessel growth is in the previously damaged myocardium. The most likely explanation for the improvements in regional systolic displacement of the anterior wall is that the increases in myocardial blood flow in the border zone results in recruitment of hibernating or stunned cardiac myocytes.

The fact that the 3DFC is viable with fibroblasts implanted on a mesh is important. There are data showing that inert biodegradable patches are beneficial in treating heart failure. In our laboratory we have shown that an inert biodegradable collagen patch placed on the rat heart after a nontransmural MI improves LV function and prevents adverse LV remodeling (10). There are clinical trials with a collagen type 1 matrix seeded with autologous bone marrow cells in patients undergoing coronary artery bypass surgery (4). The best known implanted mechanical constraint device is the Acorn Corp Cap device; it decreases LV size but does not cause constrictive physiology (22). There are no blood flow studies with the Acorn device. There is a recent report using an inert biodegradable polyester urethane cardiac patch applied to rats 2 weeks after coronary ligation where the LV cavity size does not change but fractional area change increases and compliance improves; there are no blood flow data in this report (6).

Application of a Patch as an Alternative to Direct Cell Injection

The use of a biodegradable patch that provides a support structure allowing new cells to attach and grow in a damaged heart is a possible alternative to the current approach of direct cell injection for cell-based therapy. Not only are the results from current clinical trials of cell-based therapy disappointing, the approach used in these trials is cumbersome, requiring harvesting bone marrow and a repeat cardiac catheterization with infarct artery reocclusion to reinject purified autologous mononuclear cells into the coronary arteries. Another problem is the recent report that intracoronary delivery of bone marrow cells results in damage to the coronary artery with luminal loss in the infarct related artery (20). These data suggest that we need new options for cell-based therapy for heart failure.

The translational aspect of this work is important; there is potential for clinical application of this 3DFC patch. At present there are two ongoing phase I clinical trials using the 3DFC; the first is a pilot trial in patients applying the 3DFC patch at the time of coronary artery bypass surgery when the surgeon cannot place a graft to a area of viable myocardium. This trial is designed to determine if the 3DFC increases myocardial perfusion to an area that the surgeon could not graft. While in this clinical study the 3DFC patch is placed with the chest open, two cases have been done with a minimally invasive approach using a modified video-assisted thorascopic surgery VATS procedure. The second trial is in patients getting a left ventricular assist device (LVAD). The 3DFC is applied at the time of LVAD placement and, upon LVAD removal, histology is done on the area of 3DFC placement in order to examine for evidence of angiogenesis.


We report improvements in myocardial blood flow, regional and global LV function, and partial reversal of LV remodeling using a viable three-dimensional fibroblast patch implanted in rats at the time of an acute MI. This patch provides a support structure that allows cells to grow into the damaged heart and creates new blood vessel growth, resulting in improved blood flow. With the limited success of direct cell injection into the heart, the 3DFC represents a new approach to cell-based therapy for heart failure.


Figure 1. Scanning electron micrograph of the 3DFC patch

Figure 1. Scanning electron micrograph of the 3DFC patch.

The vicryl fibers are “tube-like” structures. The fibroblasts look like irregular structures with long appendages that span from one vicryl fiber to another.

Figure 2. Three-dimensional fibroblast culture (3DFC)

Figure 2.

(A) Three-dimensional fibroblast culture (3DFC) prior to implantation; the suture in the middle of the patch is used to attach the 3DFC to the left ventricle. (B) 3DFC at the time of implantation on the infarcted left ventricle. (C) 3DFC at 3 weeks after myocardial infarction. Note that the 3DFC is well integrated and attached to the infarcted wall. (D) 3DFC in a perfused heart preparation at 3 weeks after myocardial infarction. As note above, the 3DFC is well integrated into the infarcted wall and the suture is easily visible.

Figure 3. Echocardiographic measured ejection fraction (EF)

Figure 3.

Echocardiographic measured ejection fraction (EF) in sham, myocardial infarction (MI), MI + 3DFC, MI + 3DFC/Cap (captopril), and MI + 3DFC/NV (nonviable). Note that the viable 3DFC increased the EF. The EF remained increased with the addition of captopril to the viable 3DFC; the nonviable 3DFC did not improve EF. Values are mean ± SE. Sham (N = 5); MI (N = 8); MI + 3DFC/cap (N = 10); MI + 3DFC (N = 14); MI + 3DFC (nonviable) (N = 5). *p < 0.05 sham versus all groups; **p < 0.05 MI and MI + 3DFC/NV versus MI + 3DFC/cap and MI + 3DFC.

Figure 4.

Echocardiographic measured systolic displacement of the infarcted anterior wall in sham, myocardial infarction (MI), and MI + 3DFC. Note that the 3DFC improved EF back toward the normal value. Values are mean ± SE. Sham (N = 6); MI (N = 12); MI + 3DFC (N = 15); MI + NV 3DFC (N = 12). *p < 0.05 versus MI; **p < 0.05 versus MI.

Figure 5. A. Echocardiographic measured LV end-diastolic and end-systolic diameters

Figure 5. B. Echocardiographic measured LV end-diastolic and end-systolic diameters

Figure 5.

Echocardiographic measured LV end-diastolic and end-systolic diameters in sham, myocardial infarction (MI), and MI + 3DFC. Note that both the LV end-diastolic diameter and end-systolic diameters decrease with the 3 DFC. Values are mean ± SE. Sham (N=6); MI (N=12); MI + 3DFC (N=15); MI + NV 3DFC, (N=12). *p < 0.05 versus sham; **p < 0.05 versus MI.

Figure 6. Pressure–volume (PV) loops

Figure 6.

Pressure–volume (PV) loops in sham, myocardial infarction (MI), MI + 3DFC, and MI + 3DFC/ captopril. Note that the major shift in the PV loop was with the addition of captopril where the operating LV end-diastolic volume decreased.

Figure 7.

Anterior wall myocardial blood flow in sham (N = 11), at the time of acute myocardial infarction (MI, N = 7), MI at 3 weeks (N = 4), and MI at 3 weeks with 3DFC (N = 4). Note that the 3DFC improved blood flow in the infarcted wall. Values are mean ± SE; *p < 0.05 versus baseline and MI (3w) + 3DFC.

Figure 8

Vessel density defined by Factor VIII staining. Note the increase in vessel density in the area with the 3DFC compared to the untreated myocardial infarction (MI). MI (N = 9), MI + 3DFC (N = 8). Values are mean ± SE. *p < 0.05 versus MI.

Figure 9. Histopathology

Figure 9.

Histopathology sections of Factor VIII staining in MI + 3DFC (A–C) and MI alone (4× and 40×). Note the increased in Factor VIII staining and vessel density with the 3DFC.


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Neoangiogenic Effect of Grafting an Acellular 3-Dimensional Collagen Scaffold Onto Myocardium

Author: Larry H. Bernstein, MD, FCAP


Curator: Aviva Lev-Ari, PhD, RN


This is Part 3 of a series of contributions on cardiac regeneration after myocardial infarct with stem cells.

Progenitor Cell Transplant for MI and Cardiogenesis (Part 1)
Larry H. Bernstein, MD, FCAP, and Aviva Lev-Ari, PhD, RN,-and-cardiogenesis/

Source of Stem Cells to Ameliorate Damage Myocardium (Part 2)
Larry H. Bernstein, MD, FCAP and Aviva Lev-Ari, PhD, RN Damaged_Myocardium/

An Acellular 3-Dimensional Collagen Scaffold  Induces Neo-angiogenesis (Part 3)
Larry H. Bernstein, MD, FCAP, and Aviva Lev-Ari, PhD, RN _Induces_Neo-angiogenesis/

This series of articles discusses the difficulties we have encountered in adopting stem cell research to clinical therapeutics in regeneration of cardiac tissue damaged post myocardial infarct.  Enormous problems have been encountered in the selection of progenitor cells, the growth into compatible and functional myocardial tissue, and the survival of the myocardium.  Part I went into some detail on a method of obtaining suitable cells, growing them in sheets, and transferring the sheets to the surface for regeneration and repair, which is now going into clinical trials.  Part I will be confined to the importance of source of progenitor cells, whether adult stem cells or umbilical cord blood.

These are issues that need to be considered

  • Adult stem cells
  • Umbilical cord tissue sourced cells
  • Sheets of stem cells
  • Available arterial supply at the margins
  • Infarct diameter
  • Depth of ischemic necrosis
  • Distribution of stroke pressure
  • Stroke volume
  • Mean Arterial Pressure (MAP)
  • Location of infarct
  • Ratio of myocytes to fibrocytes
  • Coexisting heart disease and, or
  • Comorbidities predisposing to cardiovascular disease, hypertension
  • Inflammatory reaction against the graft

Despite successes in pre-clinical animal models with stem cells, a problem arises with respect to the biology of the transplanted progenitor cells.  In Part II, we discovered that neo-angiogenesis occurs without evidence of myocyte generation.  That is the topic we discuss here.

Grafting an Acellular 3-Dimensional Collagen Scaffold Onto a Non-transmural Infarcted Myocardium Induces Neo-angiogenesis and Reduces Cardiac Remodeling

MA Gaballa,a JNE Sunkomat,a H Thai,a,b E Morkin,a G Ewy,a and S Goldman,a,b
From the aSection of Cardiology, University of Arizona Sarver Heart Center, Tucson, Arizona and bSouthern Arizona Veterans Administration Health Care System, Tucson, Arizona.
J Heart Lung Transplant 2006; 25: 946–54.

Background: This study was designed to determine whether tissue engineering could be used to reduce ventricular remodeling in a rat model of non-transmural, non–ST-elevation myocardial infarction.

Methods: We grafted an acellular 3-dimensional (3D) collagen type 1 scaffold (solid porous foam) onto infarcted myocardium in rats. Three weeks after grafting, the scaffold was integrated into the myocardium and retarded cardiac remodeling by reducing left ventricular (LV) dilation. The LV inner and outer diameters, measured at the equator at zero LV pressure, decreased (p < 0.05) from 11,040 ± 212 to 9,144 ± 135 pm, and 13,469 ± 187 to 11,673 ± 104 pm (N = 12), after scaffold transplantation onto infarcted myocardium. The scaffold also shifted the LV pressure–volume curve to the left toward control and induced neo-angiogenesis (700 ± 25 vs 75 ± 11 neo-vessels/cm2, N = 5, p < 0.05). These vessels (75 ± 11%) ranged in diameter from 25 to 100 pm and connected to the native coronary vasculature. Systemic treatment with granulocyte-colony stimulating factor (G-CSF), 50 pg/kg/day for 5 days immediately after myocardial injury, increased (p < 0.05) neo-vascular density from 700 ± 25 to 978 ± 57 neo-vessels/cm2.

Conclusions: A 3D collagen type 1 scaffold grafted onto an injured myocardium induced neo-vessel formation and reduced LV remodeling. Treatment with G-CSF further increased the number of vessels in the myocardium, possibly due to mobilization of bone marrow cells.


Despite advances in the treatment of heart failure after myocardial infarction, the incidence and prevalence of this disease is increasing steadily. This is due in part to recent advances in treatment of the acute ischemic event; however, even when patients survive a large myocardial infarction, they are left with damaged ventricles, often leading to heart failure without another ischemic event. Cardiomyocytes may not possess sufficient regenerative capacity after birth because loss of these cells in the acute setting results in a fibrous scar and associated regional contractile dysfunction. Transplantation of exogenous cardiac or stem/progenitor cells has been proposed as treatment for heart failure.1,2 Despite the apparent success of stem-cell therapy, there are conflicting reports about the fate of these cells and their effects on cardiac function.3–6 Previous studies in tissue engineering show that grafting an alginate or collagen scaffold seeded with either fetal cardiomyocytes or fibroblasts on injured myocardium induces neovascularization, but the morphology of these new vessels is abnormal.7–9 Our hypothesis is that grafting of a biodegradable 3D collagen type 1 scaffold onto infarcted rat myocardium would provide temporary mechanical support for the ventricular wall, induce neovascularization, and reduce cardiac remodeling.

We used the cryoinjury approach to create a model of a non–ST-elevation myocardial infarction (NON-STEMI). Our model of a relatively small non-transmural injury is similar to what is seen clinically in patients with acute ischemic injury. We speculate that the scaffold provides an initial mechanical support to retard myocardial dila¬tion after acute MI and a later collateralization between native viable blood vessels in the injured myocardium and the newly formed vessels within the scaffold. Because mobilization of progenitor/stem cells using granulocyte-colony stimulating factor (G-CSF) has been reported to increase vascularization and improve car diac function after MI,10 G-CSF treatment is performed at the time of grafting to further enhance neo-vascular-ization in our model. This study was designed as a “proof of concept” with the ultimate clinical goal to surgically graft a matrix onto the heart in patients with acute MI. This could be done using a minimally invasive approach, such as video-assisted thoracic surgery (VATS) with or without robotics.


Six-month-old adult male Fisher 344 rats (inbred strain) were used in this study.6 Fifty infarcted and 10 non-injured rats were used. Six groups of rats were studied:
(1) sham (n = 5);
(2) cryoinjury (n = 14);
(3) sham scaffold (n = 5);
(4) infarction scaffold (n = 12);
(5) infarction G-CSF (n = 12); and
(6) infarction scaffold G-CSF (n = 12).

Scaffolds were grafted immediately after cryoinjury. Six weeks after grafting –

  • hemodynamics,
  • LV pressure–volume,
  • vascular density,
  • immunohistochemistry and
  • LV remodeling measurements were performed.

The experimental protocol was carried out as described in what follows.

Experimental Myocardial Infarction Model

Myocardial infarction was produced as previously de-scribed.11 In brief, after anesthesia with ketamine, xylazine, acepromazine and atropine, a left lateral thoracotomy was performed through the third and fourth intercostal space. A 4-mm stainless-steel probe was submersed in liquid nitrogen and placed on the LV free-wall for 10 seconds. The heart was assessed visibly for viability, and the injury procedure was repeated once at the same site. Before closing the chest, the collagen scaffold was engrafted onto the injured myocardium as described in what follows. The lungs were inflated, the chest was closed, and the animal was allowed to recover. In the sham rats the chest was opened but the cold probe was not placed on the myocardium.

Grafting of 3D Collagen Type 1 Scaffold

Immediately after infarction, while the chest was still open, the scaffold was sutured to the injured myocardium at four different points along the outer boundary of the scaffold. The scaffold, a circular collagen type 1 foam disk 5 mm in diameter and 0.5 mm in thickness (Suwelack Co., Billerback, Germany), was prepared from porcine skin collagen. The scaffold is highly flexible with a porosity of 70% and an average pore diameter of 30 to 60 m as determined by scanning electron microscopy. Di-isocyanate was used to elimi-nate toxic residue after cross-linking, which is common with the use of glutaraldhyde polymers. Before engrafting, the scaffold was washed with distilled water, allowed to dry overnight, treated with rat serum, and again allowed to dry overnight.

Cytokine Treatment

Immediately after scaffold grafting, rats in Groups 5 and 6 received subcutaneous injection of G-CSF (50 g/kg/ day; Amgen Biologicals) for 5 days. Control rats and Groups 2 and 4 were treated with saline. Rats were studied 6 weeks after grafting.

All of the following measurements were performed at 6 weeks after grafting and in all groups, unless otherwise specified.


Six weeks after grafting, rats were anesthetized with inactin (100 mg/kg intraperitoneal injection) and placed on a specially equipped operating table with a heating pad to maintain constant body temperature. After endotracheal intubation and placement on a rodent ventilator (Harvard Instruments), a 2F solid-state micromanometer-tipped catheter with two pressure sensors (Millar) was inserted via the right femoral artery, with one sensor located in the left ventricle and another in the ascending aorta. The pressure sensor was equilibrated in 37°C saline before obtaining baseline pressure measurements. After a period of stabilization, LV and aortic pressures and heart rate were recorded and digitized at a rate of 1,000 Hz using a PC equipped with an analog-to-digital converter and customized soft-ware. From these data, LV dP/dt was calculated.

Left Ventricular Pressure–Volume Relationships

Six weeks after grafting and after completing the hemodynamic measurements, LV pressure–volume relations were measured in four randomly selected rats from each group as outlined in our previous publications.12 In brief, a catheter, consisting of PE-90 tubing with telescoped PE-10 tubing inside and a water-filled bal-loon attached, was inserted in the left ventricle via the left atrial appendage. Previous testing of the balloon showed essentially infinite compliance up to 0.68 ml of volume; thus, all LV infusions were kept at 0.68 ml. One end of the double-lumen LV catheter was con-nected to a volume infusion pump (Harvard Apparatus) while the other end was connected to a pressure transducer zeroed at the level of the heart. A drainage tube was also placed in the LV cavity, and the right ventricle was partially incised to prevent loading on the LV. After 2 minutes of perfusion with phosphate-buffered saline (PBS), the LV was filled (0.6 ml/min) and unfilled while pressure was recorded onto a physiologic recorder (Gould). Volume infused is a function of filling rate. The ventricle was infused to 60 mm Hg for all experiments and recordings were done in triplicate.

Communication Between the Newly Formed Vessels Within the Scaffold and Native Vessels in Surviving Myocardium

To determine whether the newly formed vessels within the scaffold were connected to the native circulation in the surviving myocardium, isolated hearts were perfused with Evans blue at the aortic root. In brief, the hearts were perfused at 100 mm Hg with PBS just to clear the blood from the coronary circulation. The hearts were then perfused at 100 mm Hg with 4 mg/ml Evans blue in PBS for 30 seconds. Standard 35-mm photographs were taken within the first 1 to 1.5 minutes after starting Evans blue perfusion. The hearts were than washed with PBS and used for morphologic and histologic analysis as described in what follows.

Morphology, Histology and Immunohistochemistry

LV remodeling (morphology).
After completing all the aforementioned measurements, the hearts were per-fused-fixed with glutaraldhyde at 100 mm Hg via the coronary circulation at zero LV pressure. In the in-farcted group, the lesion area, which is slightly larger than the steel-probe cross-sectional area, was visually measured using standard techniques developed in our laboratory to measure infarct size.13,14 However, in the infarction scaffold groups, it was difficult to measure the lesion area 6 weeks after grafting because the scaffolds were absorbed by the heart tissue and it was difficult to distinguish between the scaffold tissue and the scarred area. Each heart was cut in the short axis to five segments from the apex to the base. The inner and outer diameters were measured in the segment located at the short-axis equator using a computer attached to a digital camera.14
Vascular density within the scaffold.
The perfused-fixed hearts were dehydrated and embedded in paraffin. Five-micron-thick transverse sections, which included the scaffold, were processed for hematoxylin–eosin staining. Selected sections were stained using Factor VIII–like antigen (von Willebrand factor) to identify the endothelial cells. Sections were re-hydrated and antigen retrieval was accomplished by incubation twice in 10 mmol/liter citric acid (pH 6.0) at 95°C for 5 minutes. Endogenous peroxidase activities were removed by incubation for 10 minutes in a PBS solution containing 0.6% H2O2. Slides were incubated with primary antibody and biotinylated rabbit anti-rat IgG (Dako) as secondary antibody. After rinsing with PBS, 0.05% diaminobenzidine tetrahydrochloride and 0.01% hydrogen peroxide were applied for 5 minutes and washed with water. Muscle sections were examined for positive (brown color) staining. Vascular density was measured by light microscopy at x40 magnification. The number of cross-section vessels per field was counted. Average measurements from six different fields were recorded for each value. Knowing the area of the optical field, data were reported as number of vessels/mm2.
Vascular smooth muscle cells.
Vascular smooth muscle cells were detected by immunohistochemical (IHC) analysis in selected myocardial sections, using antibody directed against -smooth-muscle actin (M0951, Dako).15 Tissue fixation and antibody incubation and detection were performed as described earlier for the vascular density measurements.

Cardiac myocytes.

To determine whether the cells that migrated into the scaffold exhibit a cardiomyocyte-like phenotype, myocardial sections including the scaffold were incubated with mouse monoclonal IgGs primary antibody against either sarcomeric myosin heavy chain, MF20 (1:100 dilution, hybridoma supernatant; Hybrid-oma Bank, University of Iowa) or cardiac troponin T-C (Santa Cruz Biotechnology). Immunostaining on deparaffinized sections was performed using peroxidase standard protocols (as described earlier).

Statistical Analysis

Data are presented as mean +/- SD.  p  < 0.05 indicates statistical significance. For Groups 1, 2, 3 and 4, a 2-way analysis of variance (ANOVA; injury and scaffold-graft¬ing as the 2 factors) was performed, followed by multiple comparisons using Student–Newman–Keuls test. A second 2-way ANOVA (scaffold grafting and G-CSF treatment as the 2 factors), followed by multiple comparisons using Student–Newman–Keuls test, was performed on Groups 2, 4, 5 and 6.


A total of 50 infarcted and 10 non-infarcted rats were used in this study. Immediately after injury, the 3D collagen type 1 scaffold was grafted onto the infarcted myocardium. All major findings of this study were obtained at 6 weeks after scaffold grafting. In a small sub-set of animals, the scaffold was examined at 3 weeks after grafting and was found to be integrated (i.e., attached to the underlying myocardium), not only at the four suture points along the perimeter of the scaffold, but also in the middle section of the scaffold (n =2). Six weeks after grafting, when all subsequent measurements were obtained, the scaffold was mostly absorbed by the underlying myocardial tissue and the distinction between the scaffold tissue and the underlying scar became difficult to identify (n = 36).

Hemodynamics and LV Remodeling After Scaffold Grafting

Non-transmural injury resulted in LV dilation. Six weeks after infarction the LV lumen and the outer diameters, measured at the equator at zero LV pressure, were increased (p < 0.05) from 8,726 ± 189 to 11,041 ± 212 um, and 12,006 ± 99 to 13,469 ± 189 um, respectively (N = 12). Six weeks after scaffold transplantation onto infarcted myocardium, reduced myocardial dilation was detected. The LV inner lumen diameter (Di) and the outer diameter (Do) measured at the short-axis equator at zero LV pressure were decreased from 11,041 ± 212 to 9,144 ± 135 um (N = 12, p < 0.05) and from 13,469 ± 187 to 11,673 ± 104 um (N = 12, p < 0.05), respectively. The scaffold also improved cardiac remodeling by shifting of the LV pressure–volume curve to the left toward the sham (control) curve (Figure 1). In this study, the extent of damage by cryoinjury was small, with no changes in hemodynamic parameters in the injured rats with or without the scaffold at 6 weeks after grafting. Specifically, there were no changes  (nopt shown)

  • in LV end-diastolic pressure,
  • mean arterial pressure or
  • LV dP/dt (Table 1).

Figure 1. Pressure–volume curves for the four groups

Figure 1. Pressure–volume curves for the four groups. Solid line: treatment group (infarcted rats with collagen scaffold); dashed line: untreated sham and sham treated with collagen scaffold; dotted line: untreated infarcted groups (cryoinjury). The curve for sham with collagen scaffold is superimposed upon the untreated sham curve. Note that, 6 weeks after transplantation, the P-V curve is shifted to the left. N = 4 for each group. *p < 0.05.

Induction of Large Vessel Formation 6 Weeks After 3D Collagen Type 1 Scaffold Transplantation

Six weeks after grafting the collagen scaffold onto the infarcted myocardium, large vessels within the graft were observed (Figure 2A). These vessels differed from the typical angiogenesis achieved during wound heal¬ing, which is characterized by thin-walled, leaky vessels (Figure 2B). Vascular density was measured by counting the number of Factor VIII positively stained cells (Figure 3). This microscopic evaluation was carried out by a histologist without knowledge of the intervention. The scaffold induced neo-angiogenesis (700 ± 25 vs 75 ± 11 neo-vessels/cm2, N = 5). These vessels (75 ± 11%) ranged in diameter from 25 to 100 um. Note the presence of mural cells within the vessel wall, which were positive for a-smooth-muscle actin (Figure 4). Finally, the scaffold transplantation onto infarcted hearts decreased (p < 0.05) the scar area (12 ± 3% vs 21 ± 8%, N = 8) compared with infarction alone. However, it was difficult to distinguish the scar tissue from the scaffold at 6 weeks after grafting.

Figure 2. Engrafted scaffold showing vessels

Figure 2. (A) High magnification (original magnification 40) of the H&E stain of the engrafted scaffold showing large vessel (arrows). These vessels are thick-walled and have multiple cell layers. (B) Same magnification as (A) of the H&E staining of infarcted myocardium without the scaffold. Note that the ischemia-induced vascularization is characterized by thin-walled vessels.

Figure 3.  Neovascularization in scaffold

Figure 3. (A) A typical Factor VII staining for endothelial cells in cryoinjured heart with scaffold shows neo-vascularization in the scaffold (top) at 6 weeks after grating onto native myocardium (bottom). (B) A different field from the same section.

Figure 4. Smooth muscle actin staining

Figure 4. Vascular a-smooth-muscle actin staining. (A) Native (non-injured) myocardium (control). (B) Scaffold. Brown staining within the neo-vessels indicates the presence of mural cells 6 weeks after grafting.

Effects of Cytokine Treatment on Vessel Formation 6 Weeks After Scaffold Engraftment

Comparing infarcted + scaffold to infarcted + scaffold + G-CSF rats, systemic treatment with G-CSF 50 ug/kg/ day for 5 days started immediately after cryoinjury increased (p < 0.05) neo-vascular density within the scaffold from 700 ± 25 to 978 ± 57 neo-vessels/mm2 (Figure 5). No effects were observed for systemic treatment with G-CSF in LV remodeling or pressure– volume (P-V) curves when infarcted + scaffold + G-CSF were compared with untreated infarcted + scaffold rats.

Figure 5. Effects of scaffold grafting with and without G-CSF

Figure 5. Effects of scaffold grafting, with and without G-CSF administration, on vascular density. Vascular density increased by 8-fold with the scaffold alone and by 40% with scaffold and G-CSF treatment. *p < 0.05 infarcted scaffold compared with infarcted alone. **p < 0.05 infarcted scaffold G-CSF compared with infarcted scaffold. N  = 5 for each group.

Communication Between Newly Formed Vessels Within the Scaffold and Native Coronary Circulation

In both infarcted + scaffold and cryoinjured + scaffold + G-CSF groups, 6 weeks after grafting, isolated hearts, perfused with Evans blue at the aortic root, showed that the newly formed vessels within the scaffold were connected to the native vessels in the surviving myo-cardium, as indicated by the presence of blue dye within the scaffold (Figure 6B). To confirm if the newly formed vessels within the scaffold are connected to the native coronary circulation, hearts perfused with Evans blue were sectioned (5 um), hematoxylin–eosin (H&E)-stained, and examined under a fluorescence micros-copy. Evans blue showed red under fluorescence (white arrows, Figure 7).

Figure 6. coronary artery prfusion of isolated hearts

Figure 6. Coronary artery perfusion of isolated hearts with Evans blue. (A) Infarcted heart without scaffold (control). (B) Infarcted heart with scaffold. Note the neovasculature within the scaffold that perfuses blue, indicating a connection to the coronary arteries.

not shown

Figure 7. Micrographs showing Evans blue within myocardial vessels (white arrows, red color). H&E myocardial sections examined under fluorescence microscopy (original magnification 40). (A) Non-infarcted myocardium. (B) 3D scaffold.

Induction of Myofibril-like Tissue Within the Scaffold 6 Weeks After Scaffold Engraftment

Six weeks after collagen scaffold grafting onto infarcted myocardium and after treatment with G-CSF for 5 days, there was some evidence of a limited number of myofibril-like cells identified within the scaffold (Figure 8A). These myofibril-like cells were positive for the sarcomeric myosin heavy chain antibody (Figure 8A), MF20 (Hybridoma Bank, University of Iowa) and car-diac troponin T-C (sc-8121, Santa Cruz Biotechnology; Figure 8B). In that section, where these myofibril-like cells are found, there was < 0.01% per field.

Figure 8. cardiac myofibril bundle in scaffold

Figure 8. (A) Detection of cardiac myofibril bundle within the scaffold (left) by MF20 (A) and cardiac troponin T (B) immunohistochemical staining (brown, arrows) in the infarcted scaffold groups. Native myocardium is shown on the right. (C) Control staining for sham rats (uninjured myocardium).


In the present study we have shown that, in the presence of a non-transmural MI:

(1) grafting of a 3D extracellular matrix scaffold onto injured myocardium results in neo-vascularization and reduces cardiac re-modeling;

(2) mobilization of bone marrow cells using cytokine treatment further increases this neo-vascularization; and

(3) the resulting vasculature consists of large vessels, which are connected to the native coronary circulation in the surviving myocardium.

The further increase in neo-vascularization by G-CSF treatment suggests that bone marrow cells may contribute to this process. This report shows that, as a “proof of principle,” it is possible to graft a biodegradable scaffold matrix onto an injured heart to promote neo-vascularization and to possibly provide a stable platform in which circulating and/or resident progenitor cells can flourish.
We used an infarcted non-transmural MI model to examine neovascularization at the early stages of an ischemic injury that occurs without severe hemodynamic insult. The clinical correlate of our model is the non–ST-elevation MI (NON-STEMI). Interestingly, similar to our experimental model, in this clinical infarction model

  • there is LV remodeling with chamber dilation without changes in hemodynamics.

The finding that the collagen scaffold prevents this remodeling suggests that this type of approach may have a role in the treatment of early stages of ischemic injury.
Our extracellular matrix scaffold

  • induced large vessels containing vascular smooth muscle cells as evidenced by α-smooth-muscle actin (α-SMA)-positive staining.

These data differ from a previous report, which showed that grafting a scaffold based on a 3D human fibroblast patch on infarcted myocardium induced thin-walled vessels.8 The difference between these two approaches may be due in part to the scaffold itself. The scaffold we used is highly flexible with a moderate pore size (30 to 60 m) and high porosity (70%), thus allowing for cell attachment, migration, delivery of nutrients and waste removal. It also has the advantage that cells and/or growth factors can be delivered in a controlled setting before grafting. More importantly, cyclic stretch applied to the scaffold in vivo, during the cardiac cycle, may help explain the induction of large vessels within the scaffold.
In our NON-STEMI model, adverse remodeling occurs without major hemodynamic insult. The grafted scaffold

  • prevents LV dilation and thinning of the infarcted myocardium.

Preservation of LV geometry may be the main mechanism of the improved P-V relationship after grafting. The scaffold may act as a temporary mechanical support for the injured ventricular wall. Theoretically, the scaffold could also act as a homing site for the injury-mobilized cells that may reduce cardiac remodeling by induction of neovascularization. This is consistent with a previous report in which neovascularization has been suggested to improve cardiac remodeling and function.16
Several different types of myocyte preparations have been directly injected into the myocardium, such as

  • smooth muscle cells,
  • skeletal muscle cells and
  • satellite skeletal muscle cells,

all of which have been shown to enhance cardiac function.

  1. autologous transplantation of skeletal muscle has been shown to reverse LV remodeling.17–19
    1. this approach has been complicated by the induction of arrhythmias that may be due to the lack of electromechanical coupling between the injected skeletal muscle cells and the native myocardium.20
    2. repopulate the infarcted myocardium by direct injection with the patient’s own bone marrow progenitor cells.2,21–23

While these reports have even led to preliminary clinical trials,23 the fate of exogenously delivered cells directly into the myocardium is still unclear.5,6 It is beyond the scope of this report to reconcile this debate. Recently, intramyocardial transplantation of a pouch containing a mixture of collagen type 1 gel and embryonic stem cells was reported to restore infarcted myocardium.24 The approach outlined here for the heart is analogous to the reports of bone marrow cells contributing to the endothelialization of vascular autografts.25
In the present study, we grafted a 3D collagen type 1 scaffold onto the myocardium immediately after cryoinjury. This model was purposely chosen over infarction by coronary artery ligation because cryoinjury with our technique creates a well-defined, non-transmural, reproducible, similarly sized scar every time, as opposed to the coronary ligation model, in which the infarct size is transmural and variable depending upon how proximal the ligature is on the coronary artery. Cryoinjury also results in a non-transmural necrosis, potentially

  • allowing the still-viable native circulation in the surviving myocardium underneath the scar to connect to the newly formed vessels within the scaffold.

The scaffold was applied soon after infarction because we believe that injury is a strong stimulus for recruiting cells into the scaffold in vivo. After acute MI, mRNA expressions of cytokines, such as vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF), flk-1 and flt-1, are elevated initially throughout the entire heart.27 Our finding of increased density of neo-vessels in the infarcted myocardium with the scaffold is consistent with data showing that the number of circulating endothelial progenitor cells increases after myocardial injury.28
The fact that we could increase the level of neovascularization with G-CSF suggests that mobilization of bone marrow cells and possible migration to the injured myocardium may be responsible for the increase in neovascularization. Although this relationship has not been directly tested in the current study, it is consistent with previous studies demonstrating that exogenous administration of cytokines such as VEGF, stromal cell–derived factor (SDF-1) and fibroblast growth factor (FGF-1)

  1. increase the number of circulating endothelial progenitor cells,
  2. their recruitment to sites of active inflammation, and
  3. induction of angiogenesis.29,30

Taken together, this study has shown that a 3D collagen type 1 scaffold immediately grafted onto an acutely injured myocardium

  • integrates with the tissue;
  • allows for cell population,
  • growth and differentiation;
  • induces large-vessel formation within the graft; and
  • retards LV remodeling.

The further increase in neovascularization after cytokine treatment with G-CSF suggests that mobilized bone marrow cells contribute to this process. Several pre-clinical and clinical trials reported beneficial effects of cell-based therapy after MI. However, due to lack of standardization (i.e., different cell type, cell number, route of administration, etc.) in both clinical and pre-clinical studies, the efficacy of these trials is still unclear. We have shown that grafting of a biodegradable scaffold may be an effective approach for cardiac re-vascularization. Our scaffold could provide a supporting structure with the appropriate milieu for new blood vessel growth.


1. Sunkomat JN, Gaballa MA. Stem cell therapy in ischemic heart disease. Cardiovasc Drug Rev 2003;21:327–42.

2. Orlic D, Kajstura J, Chimenti S, et al. Bone marrow cells regenerate infarcted myocardium. Nature 2001;410:701–5.

3. Murry CE, Soonpaa MH, Reinecke H, et al. Haematopoi-etic stem cells do not transdifferentiate into cardiac myocytes in myocardial infarcts. Nature 2004;428:664–8.

4. Balsam LB, Wagers AJ, Christensen JL, et al. Haematopoi-etic stem cells adopt mature haematopoietic fates in ischaemic myocardium. Nature 2004;428:668–73.

5. Zhang M, Methot D, Poppa V, Fujio Y, Walsh K, Murry CE. Cardiomyocyte grafting for cardiac repair: graft cell death and anti-death strategies. J Mol Cell Cardiol 2001;33:907–21.

6. Kajstura J, Rota M, Whang B, et al. Bone marrow cells differentiate in cardiac cell lineages after infarction inde-pendently of cell fusion. Circ Res 2005;96:127–37.

7. Leo J, Aboulafia-Etzion S, Dar A, et al. Bioengineered cardiac grafts: a new approach to repair the infarcted myocardium? Circulation 2000;102(suppl III):III-56–61.

8. Kellar RS, Landeen LK, Shepherd BR, Naughtom GK, Ratcliffe A, Willams SK. Scaffold-based 3-D human fibro¬blast culture provides a structural matrix that support angiogenesis in infarcted heart tissue. Circulation 2001; 104:2063–8.

9. Nugent HM, Edelman ER. Tissue engineering therapy for cardiovascular disease. Circ Res 2003;92:1068–78.

10. Orlic D, Kajstura J, Chimenti S, et al. Mobilized bone marrow cells repair the infarcted heart, improving function and survival. Proc Natl Acad Sci USA 2001;98:10344–9.

11. Li RK, Jia ZQ, Weisel RD, et al. Cardiomyocyte transplan¬tation improves heart function. Ann Thorac Surg 1996; 62:654–61.

12. Raya TE, Gaballa M, Anderson P, Goldman S. Left ventric¬ular function and remodeling after myocardial infarction in aging rats. Am J Physiol 1997;273:H2652–8.

13. Gaballa MA, Raya TE, Goldman S. Large artery remodeling after myocardial infarction. Am J Physiol 1995;268: H2092–3.


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Source of Stem Cells to Ameliorate Damaged Myocardium (Part 2)

Author and Curator: Larry H. Bernstein, MD, FCAP


Curator: Aviva Lev-Ari, PhD, RN


This is Part 2 of a 3 part series of perspectives on stem cell applications to regenerating damaged myocardium.

Progenitor Cell Transplant for MI and Cardiogenesis  (Part 1)
Larry H. Bernstein, MD, FCAP and Aviva Lev-Ari, PhD, RN,-and-cardiogenesis/

Source of Stem Cells to Ameliorate Damage Myocardium (Part 2)
Larry H. Bernstein, MD, FCAP and Aviva Lev-Ari, PhD, RN Damaged_Myocardium/

An Acellular 3-Dimensional Collagen Scaffold  Induces Neo-angiogenesis (Part 3)
Larry H. Bernstein, MD, FCAP and Aviva Lev-Ari, PhD, RN _Induces_Neo-angiogenesis/

This series of articles discusses the difficulties we have encountered in adopting stem cell research to clinical therapeutics in regeneration of cardiac tissue damaged post myocardial infarct.  Enormous problems have been encountered in the selection of progenitor cells, the growth into compatible and functional myocardial tissue, and the survival of the myocardium.  Part I went into some detail on a method of obtaining suitable cells, growing them in sheets, and transferring the sheets to the surface for regeneration and repair, which is now going into clinical trials.  Part I will be confined to the importance of source of progenitor cells, whether adult stem cells or umbilical cord blood.

Do Adult Stem Cells Ameliorate the Damaged Myocardium? Human Cord Blood as a Potential Source of Stem Cells

Elise M.K. Furfaro and Mohamed A. Gaballa
Dept Internal Med, Sarver Heart Center, University of Arizona, College of Medicine, Tucson, AZ
Current Vascular Pharmacology, 2007, 5, 27-44  © 2007 Bentham Science Publishers Ltd.

Abstract: The heart does not mend itself after infarction. Cell-based strategies have promising therapeutic potential. Recent clinical and pre-clinical studies demonstrate varying degrees of improvement in cardiac function using different adult stem cell types such as bone marrow (BM)-derived progenitor cells and skeletal myoblasts. However, the efficacy of cell therapy after myocardial infarction (MI) is inconclusive and the cellular source with the highest potential for regeneration is unclear. Clinically, BM and skeletal muscle are the most commonly used sources of autologous stem cells. One major pitfall of using autologous stem cells is that the number of functional cells is generally depleted in the elderly and chronically ill. Therefore, there is an urgent need for a new source of adult stem cells. Human umbilical cord blood (CB) is a candidate and appears to have several key advantages. CB is a viable and practical source of progenitor cells. The cells are naïve and what’s more, CB contains a higher number of immature stem/progenitor cells than BM.

We review recent clinical experience with adult stem cells and explore the potential of CB as a source of cells for cardiac repair following MI. We conclude that there is a conspicuous absence of clinical studies utilizing CB-derived cells and there is a pressing need for large randomized double-blinded clinical trials to assess the overall efficacy of cell-based therapy.

Keywords: Umbilical cord blood, adult stem cell, myocardial infarction, congestive heart failure, human bone marrow, skeletal muscle, angiogenesis


There is an urgent need for new and effective therapy for congestive heart failure (CHF). Heart cells may have a limited capacity to regenerate after myocardial infarction (MI), therefore the use of stem cells for cardiac repair is a logical option. In the past three years, clinical and pre-clinical stud-ies examined the potential of a variety of adult stem cells from different sources as therapy for cardiac disease [1-40]. Adult stem cells are typically chosen in clinical studies be-cause their use avoids the ethical problems associated with embryonic cells. Furthermore, adult stem cells were reported to be pluripotent, capable of differentiating to different cell types [41-45]. Bone marrow-derived hematopoietic stem cells, for example, appear to differentiate into brain cells, skeletal muscle cells, liver cells and cardiomyocytes [42-45]. However, the conclusions of the studies have been recently challenged [10-21, 45].

Regardless of the source, stem cells are difficult to iden-tify because they are hard to distinguish from other cells. No techniques are available to reliably identify stem cells other than surface markers. However, cell surface markers are fickle in that none of them appear to be unique to stem cells. For example, stem and progenitor cells of a varying degree of maturity all express the CD34+ surface marker.. Stem cells are typically recovered by isolation of mononuclear cells (MNCs) and subsequent enrichment for a subset of cells that express certain surface markers such as CD34+ or CD133+, etc. These precursors are commonly sorted using the fluores-cence activated sorting system [1-45].

Direct intramyocardial injection of stem cells into the myocardium is the common route of delivery during surgical intervention. This technique of local delivery of stem/ pro-genitor cells to the myocardium has been shown to be feasi-ble and safe in patients with heart disease [1-4, 10-12, 13, 20, 22, 28]. Other than open-heart surgery, the intra-coronary route appears to be the preferred approach in clinical studies because the stem cells are delivered directly to the affected area without traumatizing the myocardium or submitting the body to the systemic side effects of stem cell mobilization [5-9, 14-19, 21]. A complementary approach to increase the efficiency of progenitor cell transplantation is to enhance cell recruitment and retention in the infarcted heart. For example, stromal cell-derived factor (SDF-1α) has recently been shown to play a critical role in stem cell recruitment to the heart after MI [46].

Although there are other sources of adult stem cells such as adipose tissue [47, 48] and cardiac tissue [49, 50], this review briefly discusses clinical trials using BM stem cells and skeletal muscle myoblasts and pre-clinical studies that used cord blood (CB) cells for heart repair carried out during the past three years. This time period was chosen due to the plethora of excellent published reviews that serve as a foun-dation for this work [51-54]. In addition, the reader may re-fer to several recently published reviews [55-63]. Current clinical experience purports the safety and feasibility of BM stem cells and skeletal muscle myoblasts as autologous cell-therapy for cardiac disease [1-20, 22-30]. However, these cell sources have limitations. For example, recovering sufficient numbers of functional BM progenitor cells is a problem in the elderly and ill [64]. Cardiovascular diseases such as diabetes are associated with BM cell dysfunction [64]. Cardiac calcifications were reported in patients following BM stem cell transplantation [64]. Bone marrow-derived mesenchymal cells (MSCs) have been suggested to play a role in myocardial scarring [64]. Skeletal myoblasts have been associated with arrhythmias and have failed to establish gap junctions with native myocardial cells [64]. Furthermore, the efficacy of these cells in repairing damaged myocardium in clinical settings is still not clear partially due to the lack of protocol standardization as well as the use of adjunct treatment. Different diseases, cell types, cell numbers, routes of cell delivery, end point measurements, and the small number of patients included in these studies make it difficult to draw conclusions about the efficacy of stem cell therapy. Larger clinical trials are now underway to assess the risks and benefits of cell-transplantation using stem cells from BM and skeletal muscle [65].

Another emerging source of stem cells is human umbilical CB. CB has the advantage of being readily available. Numerous CB banks already exist and their number is on the rise [64, 66]. CB is obtained by a non-invasive procedure, and contains a larger portion of immature and non-committed cells than BM. Stem cells derived from CB are expandable ex vivo, appear to be more resistant to apoptosis and the risk of transmission of infection is low [64, 67]. In addition, transplantation of CB cells is associated with a lower incidence and risk of graft-versus-host disease [68, 69]. Similar to previous studies that reported beneficial effects of stem cells isolated from BM and skeletal muscle, CB stem cells also show promise for cardiac repair [1, 3-9, 10¬12, 14, 15, 17-23, 25, 27-29]. Over four thousand CB transplants worldwide have been performed for the treatment of other diseases such as leukemia and immune deficiencies [70]. In contrast, to date, no clinical trials using CB-derived stem cells for transplant after MI have been reported.

The following is an update on recent clinical trials that used BM and skeletal muscle stem cells and preclinical studies that used CB cells to repair the injured myocardium. The emphasis is to evaluate CB as a potential and practical source of stem cells for heart repair after MI.


Being the first cell type used clinically, it seems logical to start by discussing the use of skeletal myoblasts, or skeletal muscle satellite cells, as cell therapy after MI. The advantages of these cells are that they are readily available from muscle biopsies, they are contractile cells, and they can be expanded ex vivo before delivery into the myocardium. Moreover, they appear to have an increased resistance to ischemia [55, 71]. Cell transplantation was usually performed concomitant to revascularization or in patients with previous revascularization [1, 2, 4-6]. Most of the studies used direct injection as the delivery route [1-4]. The number of patients in each study ranged from five to 30 and patients were followed up from 68 days to four years. Except for one study, transplantation of satellite cells was shown to improve left ventricular ejection fraction (LVEF) in all recent clinical studies [1, 3-6].
Several of these studies showed improvement in New York Heart Association (NYHA) class. Interestingly, Pagani et al. showed enhanced angiogenesis after cell transplantation, but they did not measure cardiac function or ventricular remodeling. Unfortunately, it appears that the incidence of arrhythmia and ventricular tachycardia, necessitating the implementation of prophylactic amiodarone or implanted cardioverter defibrillator as an adjunct treatment, is commonplace among these trials [2-6]. Further undermining the clinical use of skeletal myoblasts is the reported lack of cardiomyogenesis and electrical coupling with native cardiac cells that would be necessary to maintain a healthy and functioning heart [55, 72]. Detailed descriptions of these most recent clinical studies using skeletal muscle satellite cells are included in Table 1 (not shown).

[It is not surprising to this reader that the inadequacy of skeletal muscle donor cells is found to be inadequate for maintaining normal cardiac contractility.  Even though contraction of skeletal muscle, smooth muscle, and heart muscle share a basic motif involving CaMKII, the generation of a calcium spark triggering contraction involves a specific relationship between CaMKIIδ and the RyR2 receptor.   CaMKIIδ is specific to the cardiomyocyte.  The other consideration is that the heart is a syncytium, and it has a relationship to neurohumoral control, distinctly different than that in skeletal muscle  This is perhaps the most telling observation in the observed lack of cardiomyogenesis and electrical coupling with native cardiac cells that would be necessary to maintain a healthy and functioning heart [55, 72]].


To date, only small-scale clinical trials, including five to 69 patients, have been performed using bone marrow-derived stem cells (BM-SCs) for transplantation. Three different types of BM-SCs are typically used in recent clinical trials, namely un-fractionated MNCs, CD34+ cells and MSCs. These cells were proposed to treat acute or old MI as well as heart failure [7-21]. Intracoronary injection is the delivery route of choice for these cells [7-9, 14-21]. Revascularization with percutaneous coronary intervention (PCI) or coronary artery bypass graft (CABG) is commonly used concomitant to cell treatment [13, 15, 16, 18-21]. Several recent trials purported improvement in cardiac function and/or ventricular remodeling three to 12 months after cell treatment [7-11, 15, 17, 18-21]. Some of these studies reported additional enhancement in clinical parameters such as

  • end diastolic (EDV),
  • end systolic volume (ESV)
  • and/or myocardial perfusion [7-9, 10, 17-20].

A small number of studies reported no benefits from BM transplantation [12-14, 16]. In one study, bone marrow transplantation was complicated by coronary artery re-occlusion [21]. The primary endpoint of most of these trials was to assess the safety and feasibility of BM-SC transplantation as a treatment for ischemic heart disease, however these studies are underpowered. In addition, the efficacy of bone marrow cell therapy is difficult to ascertain from clinical studies, at least in part, due to common utilization of adjunct therapy such as revascularization. More detailed descriptions of bone marrow clinical studies are found in Tables 2-5 (not shown).


Since transplantation of autologous BM-SCs leads to improvement in cardiac function, mobilization of BM-SCs using cytokines to increase the number of circulating cells was utilized in succeeding studies. Granulocyte colony stimulating factor (G-CSF) is the most common cytokine used to mobilize BM-SCs in clinical studies [22-31]. The feasibility and safety of G-CSF has been reported by several investigators. The number of patients in the G-CSF studies ranged from five to 114 and they were followed for up to 52 weeks. Clinical studies in the last three years have shown that cardiac function improved in about half of the trials using G-CSF to mobilize BM-SCs [22, 23, 27-29]. The remaining half of G-CSF studies reported no effects on cardiac function [24-26, 30, 31]. In one study, an unexpected reduction in LVEF was reported [31]. Adverse effects of G-CSF treatment were reported in almost all the recent clinical studies [22, 24-27, 29, 31]. Detailed descriptions of G-CSF stud¬ies are shown in Tables 6-7.


Amidst the flurry of clinical studies utilizing BM and skeletal muscle SCs, it is a wonder why no trials are reported using CB cell transplantation in humans. However, several pre-clinical studies using various animal models demonstrated the potential use of CB stem cells for cardiac repair after MI [32-40]. Conserved commonalities of cardiac function improvement exist in these studies despite dissimilarity of protocols used [32-40]. The following is a description of the pre-clinical studies which used different subsets of CB-derived stem cells to treat MI. In this review, the pre-clinical studies are categorized according to the type of stem cell administered.

We first start with studies that used CB-derived MNCs. Ma et al. reported that intravenous injection of six million CB-MNCs into non-obese diabetic severe combined immunodeficiency (NOD/SCID) mice 24 h post-MI resulted in an increase in capillary density and decrease in both infarct size and collagen deposition three weeks after treatment [38]. No myogenesis was observed. Human DNA was identified in 10 out of the 19 mice that underwent induction of MI. Direct myocardial injection of one-sixth of the amount of cells used in the above study in rats also reduced infarct size and increased both ventricular wall thickness and LVdP/dt and ejection fraction up to six months after treatment [34].

Similar to CB-MNCs, transplantation of two hundred thousand CD34+ cells, a subset of MNCs, within 20 min after MI

  • increased vascular density,
  • reduced LV dilation, and
  • improved cardiac function four weeks after treatment [35].

However, only about one percent of the injected cells were incorporated into the vessels of the rat myocardium, which suggests that angiogenic factors released by these cells may contribute to the observed angiogenesis [35]. A subset of CD34+, CD34+ KDR+ cell fraction, was proposed to be the subset of cells responsible for angiogenesis induction and improvement in cardiac function after treatment with either MNCs or CD34+ cells [32]. Two hundred thousand of either CD34+ or MNCs, or two thousand of either CD34+ KDR+ or CD34+ KDR- cells were injected in a NOD/SCID mouse model of MI. Compared to transplantation of MNCs or PBS, CD34+ cells

  • increased LVdP/dt,
  • decreased LV end diastolic pressure and
  • infarct size up to five months after MI.

Treatment with two thousand CD34+KDR+ cells, which is two log less than the number of CD34+ cells, resulted in more
angiogenesis compared to either MNC or CD34+ [32].

An immature subset of CB-MNCs, CD133+ cells, were also reported to improve cardiac function after transplantation into MI mice [37]. One to two million CD133+ cells were intravenously injected into athymic nude rats seven days after MI. Four weeks after transplantation,

  • reduction in both scar thinning and
  • LV systolic dilation, and
  • increase in LV fractional shortening were observed.

In contrast to other studies, vessel density did not differ between the cell-treated and control rats [37]. Similarly, transplantation of a subset of these immature CD133+ cells, CD34+ CD133+ cells, into a mouse model of hindlimb ischemia resulted in angiogenesis induction [40]. Transplantation of one hundred thousand CD34+ CD133+ cells into ischemic limbs of immunosup-pressed mice increased both vessel and muscle fiber densities fourteen days after injection. In contrast, administration of CD34+ cells resulted in increased vessel density only. Neither of these findings was observed after administration of CD34- cells [40].

An alternative subset of progenitor cells, called endothelial progenitor cells (EPCs) from either CB or adult peripheral blood (PB), was also shown to induce angiogenesis in ischemic hindlimb [39]. EPCs were derived from MNC CD34+ cells and identified in culture as attaching cells that exhibit spindle-shape. These cells

  1. incorporated acetylated-low density lipoprotein,
  2. released nitric oxide, and
  3. expressed KDR, VE-cadherin, CD31, and vW factor and CD45-.

Not only were the CB-derived EPCs more abundant (10 fold increase) than those derived from PB, they also further in-creased capillary density when injected into ischemic tissue [39].

Finally, another CB-derived cell subset, denoted as human unrestricted somatic stem cells (USSCs), was shown to engraft in the infarcted heart and improve cardiac perfusion [36]. USSCs were defined as negative for the following surface markers:

  • CD14, CD31, CD33, CD34, CD45, CD56, CD133 and human leukocyte antigen class II and
  • positive for CD13, CD29, CD44, and CD49e.

In a porcine model of MI, one hundred million USSCs were directly injected into the infarcted heart four weeks after MI.

  1. Regional perfusion,
  2. LVEF,
  3. scar thickness, and
  4. wall motion increased four weeks after transplantation [36].

In addition to cell transplantation alone, the combination of gene and cell therapy was shown to be a potential treatment for MI [33]. For example,

CD34+ cells transduced with the adeno associated viral vector that encoded either human angiopieotin-1 or vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) were intramyocardially injected in a mouse model of MI. Improved cardiac function and increased capillary density were observed with CD34+ cells alone.

However, exaggerated improvements were obtained with the combined therapy of CD34+ cells transfected with Angiopieotin-1 and or VEGF. Compared with CD34+ treatment alone,

  • the combined therapy further increased capillary density and decreased infarct size [33].

Taken together, based on the pre-clinical studies, a common feature of transplantation of human CB-derived cells is

  • induction of angiogenesis and cardiac function improvement in animal models of ischemia.

Myogenesis does not seem to be a mechanism of the beneficial effects of CB transplantation.

Compared with adult stem cells, CB cell treatment has limitations. The practical and crucial difference between stem cells obtained from adult human donors and from CB is quantitatively, not qualitatively based. It is uncommon that more than several million stem cells can be isolated from CB. That amount may be too small for transplantation to an adult. Children appear to be ideal recipients when utilizing this source of stem cells since they are smaller patients and require fewer cells per kilogram of body weight [71]. However, ex vivo expansion of these cells may overcome this limitation [73, 74]. There is another concern that the use of CB for transplantation presents a higher risk of transmitting opportunistic infections [75]. The human herpes viruses are common pathogens found in transplant recipients. Currently, it is routine to test for the presence of anti-cytomegalovirus immunoglobin M. However, screening prospective CB donors for these pathogens reduces the risk of transmission of infection [75].

(Tables from published document are to be viewed in that document.)


Although early clinical studies suggest that bone marrow and skeletal myoblast transplantation into the infarcted heart improves cardiac perfusion and function, there is an urgent need for large randomized double-blinded clinical trials that assess the overall efficacy of cell-based therapy. In addition, little is known about the mechanisms by which stem cells render their positive effects. Cardiac regeneration by bone marrow cells is an obvious mechanism. However, a small number of experimental studies have purported the occurrence of myocardial regeneration by bone marrow cells. Furthermore, substantial evidence demonstrates that cell types other than cardiomyocytes improve cardiac function, suggesting that the beneficial effects of cell therapy may be independent of cardiac regeneration [76-89]. Enhanced vascularization, on the other hand, is a common finding after bone marrow cell transplantation. Cell engrafment to the vascular wall as well as angiogenic factors released by transplanted cells may be responsible for the enhanced vascularization. Obviously, there remain a considerable number of unanswered questions that must be addressed in basic science laboratories before stem cell therapy becomes standard practice. For example, what are the mechanisms of improvement in cardiac function? Which cell type is best-suited for transplantation? What is the optimal cell concentration that should be used for transplant and what is the most effective route of delivery?

The target patient population which would draw clinical benefit from cell-based therapy must also be defined and the optimal time of injection after the onset of infarction has to be determined. Currently, it is difficult to assess the efficacy of stem cell treatment of MI. This is in part due to lack of standardization among clinical as well as pre-clinical studies. Therefore, in order to accomplish these objectives, there is great need for communication among the various research groups concerned with stem cells and clinical studies.

Here we add yet another source of stem cells, namely the umbilical CB. This source of stem cells had many advantages mentioned in the preceding sections. In addition, pre-clinical studies indicate the efficacy of CB cells in myocardial repair. However, the fate and benefits of these cells need to be tested in clinical settings.


[1]  Herreros J, Prosper F, Perez A, Gavira JJ, Garcia-Velloso MJ, Barba J, et al. Autologous intramyocardial injection of cultured skeletal muscle-derived stem cells in patients with non-acute myocardial infarction. Eur Heart J 2003; 24: 2012-20.

[2]  Pagani FD, DerSimonian H, Zawadzka A, Wetzel K, Edge AS, Jacoby DB, et al. Autologous skeletal myoblasts transplanted to ischemia-damaged myocardium in humans. Histological analysis of cell survival and differentiation. J Am Coll Cardiol 2003; 41: 879-88.

[3]  Smits PC, van Geuns RJ, Poldermans D, Bountioukos M, Onder-water EE, Lee CH, et al. Catheter-based intramyocardial injection of autologous skeletal myoblasts as a primary treatment of ischemic heart failure: clinical experience with six-month follow-up. J Am Coll Cardiol 2003; 42: 2063-9.

[4]  Dib N, Michler RE, Pagani FD, Wright S, Kereiakes DJ, Lengerich R, et al. Safety and feasibility of autologous myoblast transplantation in patients with ischemic cardiomyopathy: four-year follow-up. Circulation 2005; 112: 1748-55.

[5]  Siminiak T, Kalawski R, Fiszer D, Jerzykowska O, Rzezniczak J, Rozwadowska N, et al. Autologous skeletal myoblast transplantation for the treatment of postinfarction myocardial injury: phase I clinical study with 12 months of follow-up. Am Heart J 2004; 148: 531-7.

[6]  Siminiak T, Fiszer D, Jerzykowska O, Grygielska B, Rozwadowska N, Kalmucki P, et al. Percutaneous trans-coronary-venous trans-plantation of autologous skeletal myoblasts in the treatment of post-infarction myocardial contractility impairment: the POZNAN trial. Eur Heart J 2005; 26: 1188-95.

[7]  Assmus B, Schachinger V, Teupe C, Britten M, Lehmann R, Dobert N, et al. Transplantation of Progenitor Cells and Regeneration Enhancement in Acute Myocardial Infarction (TOPCARE-AMI). Circulation 2002; 106: 3009-17.

[8]  Schachinger V, Assmus B, Britten MB, Honold J, Lehmann R, Teupe C, et al. Transplantation of progenitor cells and regeneration enhancement in acute myocardial infarction: final one-year results of the TOPCARE-AMI Trial. J Am Coll Cardiol 2004; 44: 1690-9.

[9]  Britten MB, Abolmaali ND, Assmus B, Lehmann R, Honold J, Schmitt J, et al. Infarct remodeling after intracoronary progenitor cell treatment in patients with acute myocardial infarction (TOPCARE-AMI): mechanistic insights from serial contrast-enhanced magnetic resonance imaging. Circulation 2003; 108: 2212-8.

[10]  Perin EC, Dohmann HFR, Borojevic R, Silva SA, Sousa ALS, Mesquita CT, et al. Transendocardial, autologous bone marrow cell transplantation for severe, chronic ischemic heart failure. Circulation 2003; 107: 2294–302.

Human umbilical cord blood stem cells, myocardial infarction (and stroke)

Nathan Copeland, David Harris and Mohamed A Gaballa
Nathan Copeland, Research Associate and Medical Student, University of Arizona Medical School, Tucson, Arizona; David Harris, Professor of Microbiology and Immunology, University of Arizona, Tucson, Arizona; Mohamed A Gaballa, Director, Center for Cardiovascular Research, Sun Health Research Institute, Sun City, Arizona; Section Chief of Basic Science, Cardiology Section, Banner GoodSam Medical Center, Phoenix, Arizona
Clinical Medicine 2009, Vol 9, No 4: 342–5

ABSTRACT – Myocardial infarction (MI) and stroke are the first and third leading causes of death in the USA accounting for more than 1 in 3 deaths per annum. Despite interventional and pharmaceutical advances, the number of people diagnosed with heart disease is on the rise. Therefore, new clinical strategies are needed. Cell-based therapy holds great promise for treatment of these diseases and is currently under extensive preclinical as well as clinical trials. The source and types of stem cells for these clinical applications are questions of great interest. Human umbilical cord blood (hUCB) appears to be a logical candidate as a source of cells. hUCB is readily available, and presents little ethical challenges. Stem cells derived from hUCB are multipotent and immunologically naive. Here is a critical literature review of the beneficial effects of hUCB cell therapy in preclinical trials.
KEY WORDS: animal models, cerebral infarction, myocardial infarction, stem cells, umbilical cord blood


The study of stem cell therapies to address some of the most daunting medical challenges, including heart disease and stroke, has advanced steadily over the last three years. The majority of preclinical studies of stem cells as a potential therapy for either myocardial or cerebral ischaemia were positive on average. Small clinical trials, however, show either no or modest improvement in cardiac function after myocardial infarction (MI). Currently, there are two major types of autologous cells that are clinically used for MI and stroke. The first is skeletal myoblasts, harvested from skeletal muscle. These cells can be expanded in culture. Positive outcomes were recently reported in a phase 1 clinical trial using catheter-based injection of myoblasts to the endocardium (CAUSMIC, American Heart Association (AHA) Scientific Sessions 2007). The second is bone marrow cells (BMCs). Intracoronary injection of BMCs improve global left ventricular function (IC-BMC, AHA Scientific Sessions 2007). However, direct injection of BMC administration into scarred myocardium does not alter cardiac contractility of the injured area (IC/IM-BMC, AHA Scientific Sessions 2007). The effects of stem cell therapy can only be addressed using clinical trials that:

•             are randomised, blinded, placebo controlled and adequately sized

•             use standardisation of autologous stem cell processing protocols

•             use robust endpoints of efficacy and safety

•             ensure that follow-up is complete and of adequate duration.

It is becoming clear that realisation of the full potential of the therapeutic benefit of stem cells will require understanding the biology of these undifferentiated cells. A successful therapy will require a source with plentiful supply of multipotent stem cells with minimal or no immune rejection. Several sources of stem cells were explored such as

  • adipose tissue,1–3
  • cardiac tissue,4
  • skeletal muscle biopsies,5,6 and
  • hUCB.

Whether these subpopulations of cells are best suited to treat a disease is still unanswered.

Currently, the only confirmed source for totipotential cells is embryonic. However, there are ethical and scientific obstacles to unbridled use of such cells. For clinical application, autologous adult stem cells are the obvious choice. To date, only adult stem cells derived from a patient’s own bone marrow are being used in clinical trials.

Autologous BMC therapy is not without problems. The majority of instances of MI and cerebral ischaemia (CI) occur in the elderly. Since the quantity and function of BMCs decrease with age, an allogeneic younger donor may be used to source BMCs. This may hinder the efficiency of such a treatment and suffer rejection, therefore another source of stem cells is needed.

Cryopreserved stem cells derived from human leukocyte antigen (HLA)-matched and unmatched unrelated donor hUCB were realised as a sufficient source of transplantable hematopoietic stem cells with high donor-derived engraftment and low risk of refractory acute graft-versus-host disease. However, the use of hUCB cells as treatment for either MI or CI has only been recently investigated in preclinical models.

There are several outstanding review articles on stem cells derived from cord blood in MI7–11 and stroke.12–17 This article adds depth to the debate by providing an updated review as well as presenting an integrated overview of studies involving MI and CI cell-based therapy. In the preparation of this review, every effort was made to include all relevant publications since 2005. Due to space limitations, the number of articles cited has been limited.

Cardiovascular disease

Since 2005, several studies have explored the use of various sub-populations of hUCB stem cells for regenerative therapy. Five types of UCB-derived stem cells were investigated: umbilical cord derived stem (UCDS), unrestricted somatic stem cells (USSC), mononuclear progenitor cells (MNCs), CD133+ and CD34+ subpopulations. The experimental parameters of the studies varied. The majority of studies, however, were performed using the rat animal model and utilising the left antero-lateral descending (LAD) coronary artery ligation model of MI with intramyocardial injection of the stem cells. The laboratory used a similar model to determine the efficacy of stem cell derived from hUCB to improve cardiac function after ischemia and reperfusion. The data indicated that intracoronary administration of mononuclear or CD34+ cells derived from hUCB improved cardiac function after MI by inducing neovascularisation and retarding left ventricular (LV) remodelling.37

The majority of reported studies using hUCB cells showed improvement in the outcomes.18–25 Cardiac functional improvements were almost universally reported as evaluated by:

  • increased ejection fraction;
  • improved wall motion;
  • lowered LV end-diastolic pressure; and
  • increased cardiac contraction as determined by the maximum slope of LV pressure.18–21,23–25

There were conflicting reports on the effects of stem cells on LV fractional shorting. One study reported improved shortening while another reported that BM but not UCB cells produced improved shortening.22,23 Improvements in

  • myocardial perfusion, evaluated by increased capillary density, were repeatedly demonstrated as were
  • reductions in infarct size and the number of apoptotic cells.18–25

Retardation or reduction in LV remodelling were also reported.18,21,22 Although the vast majority of studies showed positive outcomes, HLA matching and further study are still needed before UCB stem cell therapies can become safe and effective treatments in humans. A prime example of the need for further elucidation of these emerging therapies can be illustrated by the findings in a study by Moelker.26 This study used intracoronary administration of unrestricted somatic stem cells (USSCs) in a balloon left circumflex artery (LCX) occlusion ischaemia-reperfusion porcine model of MI. They found that treatment did not improve outcome and actually increased infarct size. Their histological analysis revealed that the injected cells worsened the infarct by obstructing vessels downstream.

Furthermore, the mechanisms of the observed benefits of UCB stem cell therapy in MI are under investigation:

  • improved myocardial perfusion,
  • attenuation of cardiac remodelling,
  • reduction of inflammatory responses by
    • limiting expression of TNF-a, MCP-1, MIP and INF–y, and cardiac regeneration.18–5

Tissue regeneration may be mediated by incorporation of delivered cells in the target tissue.18–21,23 An in vitro study confirmed that mononuclear cells were migrated toward homogenised infarcted myocardium and that the greatest migration occurred at two and 24 hours post-MI.20 Paracrine effect, ie the delivered cells release factors that promote neovascularisation, was also reported. Indeed, the study laboratory has shown that hUCB cells release angiogenic factors in vitro under hypoxic conditions. The data are consistent with a previous report that showed

  • increased expression of VEGF 164 and 188 accompanied by
  • angiogenesis and improved remodelling after administration of hUCB mononuclear cells into the myocardium.21

Identifying subpopulations of progenitor cells with the highest potential for tissue repair is another unanswered ques¬tion prior to widespread application of this therapy in clinical settings. Previous studies showed that UCB-derived endothe¬lial progenitor cells (EPC) to be a promising subset of stem cells for treatment of MI; however their number may be insufficient to treat adult patients. This problem can be addressed by expanding these cells in culture prior to transplant. Techniques are being developed to culture clinically significant quantities (60 population doublings) of EPCs from UBC CD.25 Transplantation of these expanded cells improved ejection fraction (EF) and vascular density in vivo, demonstrating that such a culture method may be a viable option to produce EPCs for future use in humans. Another study evaluated the use of gene therapies in conjunction with UCB stem cell therapy.24 CD34+ cells were transfected with AAV-Ang1 and/or AAV-VEGF 165. The gene-modified stem cells resulted in greater increases in capillary density and cardiac performance along with larger reduction in infarct size compared to CD34+ cell therapy alone.


1 Valina C, Pinkernell K, Song YH et al. Intracoronary administration of autologous adipose tissue-derived stem cells improves left ventricular function, perfusion, and remodelling after acute myocardial infarction. Eur Heart J 2007;28:2667–77.

2 Zhang DZ, Gai LY, Liu HW et al. Transplantation of autologous adipose-derived stem cells ameliorates cardiac function in rabbits with myocardial infarction. Chin Med J (Engl) 2007;120:300–7.

4 Hoogduijn MJ, Crop MJ, Peeters AM et al. Human heart, spleen, and perirenal fat-derived mesenchymal stem cells have immunomodulatory capacities. Stem Cells Dev 2007;16:597–604.

5 Payne TR, Oshima H, Okada M et al. A relationship between vascular endothelial growth factor, angiogenesis, and cardiac repair after muscle stem cell transplantation into ischemic hearts. J Am Coll Cardiol 2007;50:1677–84.

6 Herreros J, Prósper F, Perez A et al. Autologous intramyocardial injection of cultured skeletal muscle-derived stem cells in patients with non-acute myocardial infarction. Eur Heart J 2003;24:2012–20.

7 Goldberg JL, Laughlin MJ, Pompili VJ. Umbilical cord blood stem cells: implications for cardiovascular regenerative medicine. J Mol Cell Cardiol 2007;42:912–20.

8  Wu KH, Yang SG, Zhou B et al. Human umbilical cord derived stem cells for the injured heart. Med Hypotheses 2007;68:94–7.

9 Zhang L, Yang R, Han ZC. Transplantation of umbilical cord blood-derived endothelial progenitor cells: a promising method of therapeutic revascularisation. Eur J Haematol 2006;76:1–8.

18 Wu KH, Zhou B, Yu CT et al. Therapeutic potential of human umbil¬ical cord derived stem cells in a rat myocardial infarction model. Ann Thorac Surg 2007;83:1491–8.

19 Kim BO, Tian H, Prasongsukarn K et al. Cell transplantation improves ventricular function after a myocardial infarction: a preclinical study of human unrestricted somatic stem cells in a porcine model. Circulation 2005;112:I96–104.

20 Henning RJ, Burgos JD, Ondrovic L et al. Human umbilical cord blood progenitor cells are attracted to infarcted myocardium and sig-nificantly reduce myocardial infarction size. Cell Transplant 2006;15:647–58.

21 Hu CH, Wu GF, Wang XQ et al. Transplanted human umbilical cord blood mononuclear cells improve left ventricular function through angiogenesis in myocardial infarction. Chin Med J (Engl)  2006;119:1499–506.

22 Ma N, Ladilov Y, Moebius JM et al. Intramyocardial delivery of human CD133+ cells in a SCID mouse cryoinjury model: Bone marrow vs. cord blood-derived cells. Cardiovasc Res 2006;71:158–69.

23 Leor J, Guetta E, Feinberg MS et al. Human umbilical cord blood-derived CD133+ cells enhance function and repair of the infarcted myocardium. Stem Cells 2006;24:772–80.

24 Chen HK, Hung HF, Shyu KG et al. Combined cord blood stem cells and gene therapy enhances angiogenesis and improves cardiac perfor-mance in mouse after acute myocardial infarction. Eur J Clin Invest 2005;35:677–86.


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