[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Cell therapy has developed as a complementary treatment for myocardial regeneration. While both autologous and allogeneic uses have been advocated, the ideal candidate has not been identified yet. Amniotic fluid-derived stem (AFS) cells are potentially a promising resource for cell therapy and tissue engineering of myocardial injuries. However, no information is available regarding their use in an allogeneic context. c-kit-sorted, GFP-positive rat AFS (GFP-rAFS) cells and neonatal rat cardiomyocytes (rCMs) were characterized by cytocentrifugation and flow cytometry for the expression of mesenchymal, embryonic and cell lineage-specific antigens. The activation of the myocardial gene program in GFP-rAFS cells was induced by co-culture with rCMs. The stem cell differentiation was evaluated using immunofluorescence, RT-PCR and single cell electrophysiology. The in vivo potential of Endorem-labeled GFP-rAFS cells for myocardial repair was studied by transplantation in the heart of animals with ischemia/reperfusion injury (I/R), monitored by magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). Three weeks after injection a small number of GFP-rAFS cells acquired an endothelial or smooth muscle phenotype and to a lesser extent CMs. Despite the low GFP-rAFS cells count in the heart, there was still an improvement of ejection fraction as measured by MRI. rAFS cells have the in vitro propensity to acquire a cardiomyogenic phenotype and to preserve cardiac function, even if their potential may be limited by poor survival in an allogeneic setting.