Methods and Results: The cardiac stem/progenitor cells from adult mice were seeded at low density in serum-free medium. The colonies thus obtained were expanded separately and assessed for expression of stem cell antigen-1 (Sca-1). Two colonies each with high Sca-1 (CSH1; 95.9%; CSH2; 90.6%) and low Sca-1 (CSL1; 37.1%; CSL2; 17.4%) expressing cells were selected for further studies. Sca-1 + cells (98.4%) isolated using Magnetic Cell Sorting System (MACS) from the hearts were used as a control. Although the selected populations were similar in surface marker expression (low in c-kit, CD45, CD34, CD31 and high in CD29), these cells exhibited diverse differentiation potential. Unlike CSH1, CSH2 expressed Nanog, TERT, Bcrp1, Nestin, Musashi1 and Isl-1, and also showed differentiation into osteogenic, chondrogenic, smooth muscle, endothelial and cardiac lineages. MACS sorted cells exhibited similar tendency albeit with relatively weaker differentiation potential. Transplantation of CSH2 cells into infarcted heart showed attenuated infarction size, significantly preserved left ventricular function and anterior wall thickness, and increased capillary density. We also observed direct differentiation of transplanted cells into endothelium and cardiomyocytes. Conclusions: The cardiac stem/progenitor cells isolated by a combined clonal selection and surface marker approach possessed multiple stem cell features important for cardiac regeneration.
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