Cardiovascular diseases are one of the main reasons of human death.
The treatment is still very complicated and doesn't give expected results.
Cellular replacement therapy could be one of the possible therapeutic approaches to solve this problem.
The main challenge here is fast and simple way to receive transplant/cells when it is needed.
It is known that adult bone marrow (BM) harbors several small populations of cells which may contribute to cardiac and endothelial repair, such as endothelial progenitor cells (EPCs), mesenchymal stromal cells (MSCs) and very small embryonic-like cells (VSELs) expressing several markers of pluripotent stem cells (PSCs), such as Oct-4, Nanog and SSEA-1.
Such cells were identified in mice bone marrow, peripheral blood and solid organs as well as in umbilical cord blood (UCB) and peripheral blood (PB) in humans.
The adult BM-derived VSELs may undergo differentiation into cells derived for all three germ layers, including cardiomyocytes and vascular endothelial cells.
VSELs can be isolated using a multiparameter live cell sorting technique with special gating strategy based on their small size, expression of stem cell markers (Sca-1 in mice, CXCR4 and CD133 in humans) and absence of hematopoietic lineage markers (CD45(-) Lin(-)).
Experiments in murine models of myocardial infarction (MI) demonstrated population of VSELs expressed also early markers of cardiac and endothelial lineages (GATA-4, Nkx2.5/Csx, VE-cadherin, von Willebrand factor) which migrated to stromal-derived factor-1 (SDF-1) and other chemoattractant gradient and underwent rapid mobilization into peripheral blood in experimental MI mice models.
The mobilization of VSELs expressing PSC, early cardiac and endothelial markers in patients with acute MI has been demonstrated.
In addition to BM, VSELs were also identified in several murine solid organs including the heart and brain, as well as in umbilical cord blood and peripheral blood in adult humans.
It is possible that VSELs are quiescent progeny of epiblast-derived PSCs that are deposited during organogenesis in developing organs.
In experimental MI intramyocardial injection of VSELs was more efficient than that of HSCs at improving left ventricular ejection fraction and attenuation of myocardial hypertrophy.
VSELs can be useful in translational studies of cardiovascular repair.