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Nat Biotechnol. 2004 Oct;22(10):1282-9. Epub 2004 Sep 26.

Electromechanical integration of cardiomyocytes derived from human embryonic stem cells.

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The Sohnis Family Research Laboratory for the Regeneration of Functional Myocardium, Department of Biophysics and Physiology, the Bruce Rappaport Faculty of Medicine, Technion-Israel Institute of Technology, P.O. Box 9649, Haifa, Israel.


Cell therapy is emerging as a promising strategy for myocardial repair. This approach is hampered, however, by the lack of sources for human cardiac tissue and by the absence of direct evidence for functional integration of donor cells into host tissues. Here we investigate whether cells derived from human embryonic stem (hES) cells can restore myocardial electromechanical properties. Cardiomyocyte cell grafts were generated from hES cells in vitro using the embryoid body differentiating system. This tissue formed structural and electromechanical connections with cultured rat cardiomyocytes. In vivo integration was shown in a large-animal model of slow heart rate. The transplanted hES cell-derived cardiomyocytes paced the hearts of swine with complete atrioventricular block, as assessed by detailed three-dimensional electrophysiological mapping and histopathological examination. These results demonstrate the potential of hES-cell cardiomyocytes to act as a rate-responsive biological pacemaker and for future myocardial regeneration strategies.

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