Scientists in Japan have reported the discovery of cells that behave like cardiac precursor cells and which are derived from human menstrual blood. The discovery corroborates similar reports made independently by researchers in the United States in November of 2007. In both cases, such a discovery identifies a new, non-invasive, inexpensive, universally available, easily obtainable and ethically non-controversial source of highly potent stem cells.
As described by the Japanese researchers, these MMCs (menstrual blood-derived mesenchymal cells) “began beating spontaneously after induction, exhibiting cardiomyocyte-specific potentials.” The researchers hypothesized that the majority of the cardiomyogenic cells found in the MMCs had originated from detached uterine endometrial glands, 76 to 97% of which were shown to transdifferentiate into cardiac cells in vitro. Additionally, the MMCs were found to proliferate an average of 28 generations, while the subpopulation of EMCs (endometrial gland-derived mesenchymal cells) were able to be engrafted onto a recipient’s heart via a 3-dimensional EMC cell sheet. When the MMCs were transplanted into rats who had suffered myocardial infarction, cardiac function was significantly restored.
The authors concluded that, “MMCs appear to be a potential novel, easily accessible source of material for cardiac stem cell-based therapy.”
The findings were reported by scientists at the Keijo University School of Medicine in Tokyo in collaboration with researchers at the National Research Institute for Child Health and Development in Tokyo, the National Cancer Center Research Institute in Tokyo, Kanazawa University School of Medicine, and Tokyo Women’s Medical University.