Due to prolonged lifespans, cardiovascular disease is on the increase worldwide and is now the leading cause of death, especially in developed countries. Histologically, it is characterized by coronary atherosclerosis, in which the over-proliferation of vascular smooth muscle cells (VSMC) is evident, associated with endothelial injury and foamy cell-like macrophages (i.e., local inflammation) (1,2). Such a sclerotic event triggers narrowed lumens (i.e., stenosis) and a decrease in coronary blood flow leads to local hypoxia, apoptosis, and eventually the onset of myocardial infarction (MI) (2). Thus, the major approaches proposed to prevent or restore MI are: (i) prevention or restoration of coronary atherosclerosis, the primary cause of heart disease
(ii) induction of cardiac angiogenesis with cytokines/growth factors
(iii) inhibition of cardiomyocyte cell death during heart ischemia (i.e., anti-apoptotic therapy)
and, (iv) possible reconstitution of cardiomyocytes via recruitment of intrinsic stem cells, or cell transplantation (i.e., regenerative therapy).