Administration of mesenchymal stromal cells (MSCs) is a promising strategy to treat cardiovascular disease (CVD). As progenitor cells may be negatively affected by both age and comorbidity, characterization of MSC function is important to guide decisions regarding use of allogeneic or autologous cells. Definitive answers on which factors affect MSC function can also aid in selecting which MSC donors would yield the most therapeutically efficacious MSCs. Here we provide a narrative review of MSC function in CVD based on a systematic search. A total of 41 studies examining CVD-related MSC (dys)function were identified. These data show that MSC characteristics and regenerative potential are often affected by CVD. However, studies presented conflicting results, and directed assessment of MSC parameters relevant to regenerative medicine applications was lacking in many studies. The predictive ability of in vitro assays for in vivo efficacy was rarely assessed. There was no correlation between quality of study reporting and study findings. Age mismatch was also not associated with study findings or effect size. Future research should focus on assays that assess regenerative potential in MSCs and parameters that relate to clinical success.
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