Identifying a bona fide population of cardiac stem cells (CSCs) is a critical step for developing cell-based therapies for heart failure patients. Previously, cardiac c-kit(+) cells were reported to be CSCs with a potential to become myocardial, endothelial and smooth muscle cells in vitro and after cardiac injury. Here we provide further insights into the nature of cardiac c-kit(+) cells. By targeting the c-kit locus with multiple reporter genes in mice, we find that c-kit expression rarely co-localizes with the expression of the cardiac progenitor and myogenic marker Nkx2.5, or that of the myocardial marker, cardiac troponin T (cTnT). Instead, c-kit predominantly labels a cardiac endothelial cell population in developing and adult hearts. After acute cardiac injury, c-kit(+) cells retain their endothelial identity and do not become myogenic progenitors or cardiomyocytes. Thus, our work strongly suggests that c-kit(+) cells in the murine heart are endothelial cells and not CSCs.
Pubmed ID: 26515110 RIS Download
Mesh terms: Animals | Cell Proliferation | Cells, Cultured | Endothelial Cells | Female | Homeobox Protein Nkx-2.5 | Homeodomain Proteins | Humans | Male | Mice | Myocardial Infarction | Myocytes, Cardiac | Proto-Oncogene Proteins c-kit | Stem Cells | Transcription Factors
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