Mesenchymal stem cells (MSC) are characterized by their multilineage differentiation capacity and immunosuppressive properties. They are resident in virtually all tissues and we have recently characterized MSC from the human heart. Clinical heart transplantation offers a model to study the fate of transplanted human MSC. In this study, we isolated and expanded MSC from heart tissue taken before, and 1 week up to 6 years after heart transplantation. MSC from posttransplantation tissue were all of donor origin, demonstrating the longevity of endogenous MSC and suggesting an absence of immigration of recipient MSC into the heart. MSC isolated from transplanted tissue showed an immunophenotype that was characteristic for MSC and maintained cardiomyogenic and osteogenic differentiation capacity. They furthermore preserved their ability to inhibit the proliferative response of donor-stimulated recipient peripheral blood mononuclear cells. In conclusion, functional MSC of donor origin remain present in the heart for several years after transplantation.

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Keywords Cardiac transplant, Chimerism, Differentiation, Immunosuppression, Mesenchymal stem cells, Solid organ transplantation, Stem cells
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Journal American Journal of Transplantation
Hoogduijn, M.J, Crop, M.J, Peeters, A, Korevaar, S.S, Eijken, H.J.M, Drabbels, J.J, … Baan, C.C. (2009). Donor-derived mesenchymal stem cells remain present and functional in the transplanted human heart. American Journal of Transplantation, 9(1), 222–230. doi:10.1111/j.1600-6143.2008.02450.x