Background: Despite optimal treatment, myocardial infarction (MI) remains a major cause
of death worldwide. Stem cell transplantation, as a promising therapy hoping to improve myocardial
function and generate new myocardium, has been intensely studied for treating MI.
Objective: To summarize the recent advance of stem cell transplantation for treating MI in clinical
trials and preclinical studies.
Results: Several types of adult stem cells have been applied to clinical trials and exerted beneficial
effects against MI. The therapeutic effects of these stem cells are varied, modest and mostly depend on
paracrine function. Embryonic stem cells and induced pluripotent stem cells, as well as their derivative
cells, bring a new dawn for cardiac regeneration although they have not been applied in patients due to
safety concerns. Feasible solutions are required to stress the safety issue, and to improve the survival,
engraftment, migration, differentiation and synchronization with recipient myocardium of transplanted
Conclusion: Stem cell transplantation for treating MI in clinical trials has achieved modest therapeutic
effect. The hurdles limiting the stem cell function define the direction of further research.