Safety and efficacy of cell therapies in pediatric heart disease: a systematic review and meta-analysis

John Martinez, Sarah Zoretic, Axel Moreira, Alvaro Moreira

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


Background: Adult clinical trials have reported safety and the therapeutic potential of stem cells for cardiac disease. These observations have now translated to the pediatric arena. We conducted a meta-analysis to assess safety and efficacy of cell-based therapies in animal and human studies of pediatric heart disease. Methods and results: A literature search was conducted to examine the effects of cell-based therapies on: (i) safety and (ii) cardiac function. In total, 18 pre-clinical and 13 human studies were included. Pre-clinical: right ventricular dysfunction was the most common animal model (80%). Cardiac-derived (28%) and umbilical cord blood (24%) cells were delivered intravenously (36%) or intramyocardially (35%). Mortality was similar between cell-based and control groups (OR 0.94; 95% CI 0.05, 17.41). Cell-based treatments preserved ejection fraction by 6.9% (p < 0.01), while intramyocardial at a dose of 1-10 M cells/kg optimized ejection fraction. Clinical: single ventricle physiology was the most common cardiac disease (n = 9). Cardiac tissue was a frequent cell source, dosed from 3.0 × 105 to 2.4 × 107 cells/kg. A decrease in adverse events occurred in the cell-based cohort (OR 0.17, p < 0.01). Administration of cell-based therapies improved ejection fraction (MD 4.84; 95% CI 1.62, 8.07; p < 0.01). Conclusions: In this meta-analysis, cell-based therapies were safe and improved specific measures of cardiac function. Implications from this review may provide methodologic recommendations (source, dose, route, timing) for future clinical trials. Of note, many of the results described in this study pattern those seen in adult stem cell reviews and meta-analyses.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number272
JournalStem Cell Research and Therapy
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jul 8 2020


  • Cardiology
  • Heart
  • Pediatric
  • Regenerative medicine
  • Stem cells

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Molecular Medicine
  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology (miscellaneous)
  • Medicine (miscellaneous)
  • Cell Biology


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