Available medical therapy is unable to completely prevent or revert the pathological cardiac remodeling secondary to ischemia or other injuries, which is responsible for the development of heart failure. Regenerative medicine through stem cells had an explosive development in the cardiovascular area during the past decade. Stem cells possess the capacity to regenerate, repair or substitute damaged tissue, allowing the reestablishment of its function. Stem cells can also modulate apoptosis, angiogenesis, fibrosis and inflammation, favoring the endogenous regenerative process initiated by the damaged tissue. These capacities have been corroborated in several animal models of cardiovascular diseases with positive results. In humans, therapies with bone marrow mononuclear stem cells, mesenchymal stem cells and cardiac stem cells are safe. Most randomized clinical trials in patients with myocardial infarction or cardiomyopathies of different etiologies have reported benefits on ventricular function, quality of life and even over mortality of treated patients. This article reviews the state of art of stem cell therapy in cardiovascular diseases, focusing on the most common cellular types used in patients with acute myocardial infarction and chronic cardiomyopathies of different etiologies.
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