Cardiovascular disease remains the leading cause of morbidity and mortality in the developed countries. This review summarizes current pre-clinical and clinical evidence for the potential role and mechanisms of action of stem and progenitor cells in vascular and cardiac repair and regeneration. Apart from cell transplantation strategies, approaches to maintain stem cell niche function and targeting mobilization/recruitment of specific stem/progenitor cell populations may aid in preserving vascular and cardiac function. Moreover, with the use of patient-derived induced pluripotent stem cells, the field of regenerative medicine is entering a new era. Potential applications of induced pluripotent stem cells and direct reprogrammed cells as well as recent developments in tissue engineering are discussed.
Keywords: Stem cells, regenerative medicine, endothelial repair, cardiovascular disease, lymphocytes, proteases, chemoattractants, myocardial infarction, sickle cell anemia, insulin
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