Int J Sports Med 2014; 35(03): 181-190
DOI: 10.1055/s-0033-1351253
© Georg Thieme Verlag KG Stuttgart · New York

Cardiac Regeneration and Cellular Therapy: Is there a Benefit of Exercise?

P. A. Figueiredo
1  CIAFEL – Faculty of Sport, University of Porto, Portugal
H.-J. Appell Coriolano
2  Physiology & Anatomy, German Sport University, Cologne, Germany
J. A. Duarte
1  CIAFEL – Faculty of Sport, University of Porto, Portugal
› Author Affiliations
Further Information

Publication History

accepted after revision 19 June 2013

Publication Date:
30 July 2013 (online)


Cardiovascular diseases (CVD) are a global epidemic in developed countries. Cumulative evidence suggests that myocyte formation is preserved during postnatal life, in adulthood or senescence, suggesting the existence of a growth reserve of the heart throughout lifespan. Several medical therapeutic approaches to CVD have considerably improved the clinical outcome for patients. Intense interest has been focused on regenerative medicine as an emerging strategy for CVD. Cellular therapeutic approaches have been proposed for enhancing survival and propagation of stem cells in myocardium, leading to cardiac cellular repair. Strong epidemiological and clinical data exists concerning the impact of regular physical exercise on cardiovascular health. Several mechanisms of acute and chronic exercise-induced cardiovascular adaptations to exercise have been presented, considering primary and secondary prevention of CVD. In this context, exercise-related improvements in the function and regeneration of the cardiovascular system may be associated with the exercise-induced activation, mobilization, differentiation, and homing of stem and progenitor cells. In this review several topics will be addressed concerning the relation between exercise, recruitment and biological activity of blood-circulating progenitor cells and resident cardiac stem cells. We hypothesize that exercise-induced stem cell activation may enhance overall heart function and improve the efficacy of cardiac cellular therapeutic protocols.