[en] The in vivo cardiac differentiation and functional effects of unmodified adult bone marrow mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs) after myocardial infarction (MI) is controversial. We postulated that ex vivo pretreatment of autologous MSCs using cardiomyogenic growth factors will lead to cardiomyogenic specification and will result in superior biological and functional effects on cardiac regeneration of chronically infarcted myocardium. We used a chronic dog MI model generated by ligation of the coronary artery (n = 30). Autologous dog bone marrow MSCs were isolated, culture expanded, and specified into a cardiac lineage by adding growth factors, including basic FGF, IGF-1, and bone morphogenetic protein-2. Dogs underwent cell injection > 8 wk after the infarction and were randomized into two groups. Group A dogs (n = 20) received MSCs specified with growth factors (147 +/- 96 x 10(6)), and group B (n = 10) received unmodified MSCs (168 +/- 24 x 10(6)). After the growth factor treatment, MSCs stained positive for the early muscle and cardiac markers desmin, antimyocyte enhancer factor-2, and Nkx2-5. In group A dogs, prespecified MSCs colocalized with troponin I and cardiac myosin. At 12 wk, group A dogs showed a significantly larger increase in regional wall thickening of the infarcted territory (from 22 +/- 8 to 32 +/- 6% in group A; P < 0.05 vs. baseline and group B, and from 19 +/- 7 to 21 +/- 7% in group B, respectively) and a decrease in the wall motion score index (from 1.60 +/- 0.05 to 1.35 +/- 0.03 in group A; P < 0.05 vs. baseline and group B, and from 1.58 +/- 0.07 vs. 1.56 +/- 0.08 in group B, respectively). The biological ex vivo cardiomyogenic specification of adult MSCs before their transplantation is feasible and appears to improve their in vivo cardiac differentiation as well as the functional recovery in a dog model of the chronically infarcted myocardium.