Bone marrow-derived pluripotent very small embryonic-like stem cells (VSELs) are mobilized after acute myocardial infarction

Ewa K. Zuba-Surma, Magdalena Kucia, Buddhadeb Dawn, Yiru Guo, Mariusz Z. Ratajczak, Roberto Bolli

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The adult bone marrow (BM) harbors Sca-1+/Lin-/CD45- pluripotent very small embryonic-like stem cells (VSELs), which can differentiate in vitro into several lineages, including cardiac and vascular lineages. Since mobilization of stem/progenitors from the BM is a prerequisite for their participation in organ repair, we investigated whether VSELs are mobilized into the peripheral blood (PB) after acute myocardial infarction (MI). Wild-type mice (C57BL/6 strain, 6- or 15-wk-old) underwent a 30-min coronary occlusion followed by reperfusion (groups III-V, VIII-X, n = 6-12/group) or a 1-hour open-chest state (sham controls, groups II and VII, n = 8-12/group); mice were sacrificed 24 h, 48 h, or 7 days later and PB samples were harvested. Controls (groups I and VI, n = 6/group) were sacrificed without any intervention. By flow cytometry, VSELs were barely detectable in PB under baseline conditions but their levels increased significantly at 48 h after MI, both in younger (6-wk-old) and older (15-wk-old) mice (3.33 ± 0.37 and 7.10 ± 0.89 cells/μl of blood, respectively). At 48 h after MI, qRT-PCR analysis revealed significantly increased levels of mRNA of markers of pluripotency (Oct-4, Nanog, Rex-1, Rif1, and Dppa1) in PB cells of 6-wk-old (but not 15-wk-old) infarcted mice compared with either controls or sham controls. Confocal microscopy and ImageStream analysis confirmed that mobilized VSELs expressed Oct-4 protein, while Sca-1+/Lin-/CD45+ hematopoietic stem cells did not. This is the first demonstration that Oct-4+ pluripotent stem cells (VSELs) are mobilized from the BM into the PB after acute MI. This phenomenon may have pathophysiological and therapeutic implications for repair of infarcted myocardium.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)865-873
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Molecular and Cellular Cardiology
Issue number5
StatePublished - May 2008
Externally publishedYes


  • Bone marrow
  • Mobilization
  • Myocardial infarction
  • Oct-4
  • Pluripotent
  • Very small embryonic-like stem cells

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Molecular Biology
  • Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine


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