17 October 2017
Although patient-sourced cardiac explant-derived stem cells (EDCs) provide an exogenous source of new cardiomyocytes post-myocardial infarction, poor long-term engraftment indicates that the benefits seen in clinical trials are likely paracrine-mediated. Of the numerous cytokines produced by EDCs, interleukin-6 (IL-6) is the most abundant; however, its role in cardiac repair is uncertain. In this study, a custom short-hairpin oligonucleotide lentivirus was used to knockdown IL-6 in human EDCs, revealing an unexpected pro-healing role for the cytokine.
Methods: EDCs were cultured from atrial appendages donated by patients undergoing clinically indicated cardiac surgery. The effects of lentiviral mediated knockdown of IL-6 was evaluated using in vitro and in vivo models of myocardial ischemia.
Results: Silencing IL-6 in EDCs abrogated much of the benefits conferred by cell transplantation and revealed that IL-6 prompts cardiac fibroblasts and macrophages to reduce myocardial scarring while increasing the generation of new cardiomyocytes and recruitment of blood stem cells.
Conclusions: This study suggests that IL-6 plays a pivotal role in EDC-mediated cardiac repair and may provide a means of increasing cell-mediated repair of ischemic myocardium.