Despite great advances in therapy over the past decades, ischemic heart disease (IHD) remains the leading cause of death worldwide because the decrease in mortality after acute myocardial infarction (AMI) leads to a longer life span in patients with chronic post-infarct heart failure (HF). There are no existing medical treatments that can cure chronic HF and the only currently available therapeutic option for end-stage HF is heart transplantation. However, transplantation is limited by the shortage of donor organs and patients require lifelong immunosuppression. In the past 10 years, stem cell-based cardiac therapy has been proposed as a promising approach for the treatment of IHD. There is a variety of potential stem cell types for cardiac repair and regeneration, including bone marrow cells (BMCs), resident cardiac stem cells (CSCs) and induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs). Stem cell-based therapy may comprise cell transplantation or cardiac tissue engineering (CTE), which might be an attractive alternative to solve the problems of low retention and poor survival of transplanted cells. This review focuses on the characteristics of stem cells from various sources and discusses the strategies of stem cell-based therapy for the treatment of IHD.
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