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Circulation. 2005 Jan 4;111(1):11-20. Epub 2004 Dec 20.

Functional integration of electrically active cardiac derivatives from genetically engineered human embryonic stem cells with quiescent recipient ventricular cardiomyocytes: insights into the development of cell-based pacemakers.

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1
Department of Medicine, Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore, Md 21205, USA.

Abstract

BACKGROUND:

Human embryonic stem cells (hESCs) derived from blastocysts can propagate indefinitely in culture while maintaining pluripotency, including the ability to differentiate into cardiomyocytes (CMs); therefore, hESCs may provide an unlimited source of human CMs for cell-based therapies. Although CMs can be derived from hESCs ex vivo, it remains uncertain whether a functional syncytium can be formed between donor and recipient cells after engraftment.

METHODS AND RESULTS:

Using a combination of electrophysiological and imaging techniques, here we demonstrate that electrically active, donor CMs derived from hESCs that had been stably genetically engineered by a recombinant lentivirus can functionally integrate with otherwise-quiescent, recipient, ventricular CMs to induce rhythmic electrical and contractile activities in vitro. The integrated syncytium was responsive to the beta-adrenergic agonist isoproterenol as well as to other pharmacological agents such as lidocaine and ZD7288. Similarly, a functional hESC-derived pacemaker could be implanted in the left ventricle in vivo. Detailed optical mapping of the epicardial surface of guinea pig hearts transplanted with hESC-derived CMs confirmed the successful spread of membrane depolarization from the site of injection to the surrounding myocardium.

CONCLUSIONS:

We conclude that electrically active, hESC-derived CMs are capable of actively pacing quiescent, recipient, ventricular CMs in vitro and ventricular myocardium in vivo. Our results may lead to an alternative or a supplemental method for correcting defects in cardiac impulse generation, such as cell-based pacemakers.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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