Archives of physiology and biochemistry

Can 5-azacytidine convert the adult stem cells into cardiomyocytes? A brief overview.

PMID 17178600


From the first report that bone marrow cells (BMC) have stem cells characteristics, several studies have debated the possibility of intervening in myocardial remodeling after injury, for example myocardial infarction, by using BMC. The goal of this paper is to review the concept of whether the demethylating agent 5-azacytidine influences the myogenic differentiation of bone marrow-derived cells. The existing data seem to indicate that in vitro treatment with 5-azacytidine, even if not enough to generate mature CMC, promotes the in vivo and in vitro commitment of BMC into cells that express muscle-specific proteins and genes and, at a very low rate, show spontaneous contractions. It is probable this treatment makes the cells less responsive to other inductive factors secreted by the microenvironment that might modulate the differentiation. These data suggest that this approach may be used to prime cells prior to their transplantation in an injury area in the heart.