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Open Access Highly Accessed Review

Cardiac regeneration and diabetes

Lu Cai12* and Bradley B Keller23

Author Affiliations

1 Kosair Children’s Hospital Research Institute, Louisville, KY, USA

2 Department of Pediatrics, University of Louisville, Louisville, KY, USA

3 Cardiovascular Innovation Institute, University of Louisville, Louisville, Kentucky, USA

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Regenerative Medicine Research 2014, 2:1  doi:10.1186/2050-490X-2-1

Published: 3 January 2014


The prevalence of diabetes continues to increase world-wide and is a leading cause of morbidity, mortality, and rapidly rising health care costs. Although strict glucose control combined with good pharmacological and non-pharmacologic interventions can increase diabetic patient life span, the frequency and mortality of myocardial ischemia and infarction remain drastically increased in diabetic patients. Therefore, more effective therapeutic approaches are urgently needed. Over the past 15 years, cellular repair of the injured adult heart has become the focus of a rapidly expanding broad spectrum of pre-clinical and clinical research. Recent clinical trials have achieved favorable initial endpoints with improvements in cardiac function and clinical symptoms following cellular therapy. Due to the increased risk of cardiac disease, cardiac regeneration may be one strategy to treat patients with diabetic cardiomyopathy and/or myocardial infarction. However, pre-clinical studies suggest that the diabetic myocardium may not be a favorable environment for the transplantation and survival of stem cells due to altered kinetics in cellular homing, survival, and in situ remodeling. Therefore, unique conditions in the diabetic myocardium will require novel solutions in order to increase the efficiency of cellular repair following ischemia and/or infarction. This review briefly summarizes some of the recent advances in cardiac regeneration in non-diabetic conditions and then provides an overview of some of the issues related to diabetes that must be addressed in the coming years.

Diabetic cardiomyopathy; Cardiac regeneration; Stem cells; Cardiac stem cells