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J Tissue Eng Regen Med. 2011 Mar;5(3):220-8. doi: 10.1002/term.308.

In vitro cardiomyogenic potential of human amniotic fluid stem cells.

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Wake Forest Institute for Regenerative Medicine, Wake Forest University of Health Sciences, Winston-Salem, NC 27157, USA.


Stem cell therapy for damaged cardiac tissue is currently limited by a number of factors, including inability to obtain sufficient cell numbers, the potential tumorigenicity of certain types of stem cells and the possible link between stem cell therapy and the development of malignant arrhythmias. In this study, we investigated whether human amniotic fluid-derived stem (hAFS) cells could be a potential source of cells for cardiac cell therapy, by testing the in vitro differentiation capabilities. Undifferentiated hAFS cells express several cardiac genes, including the transcription factor mef2, the gap junction connexin43, and H- and N-cadherin. A 24 h incubation with 5-aza-2'-deoxycytidine (5-AZA-dC) induced hAFS cell differentiation along the cardiac lineage. Evidence for this differentiation included morphological changes, upregulation of cardiac-specific genes (cardiac troponin I and cardiac troponin T) and redistribution of connexin43, as well as downregulation of the stem cell marker SRY-box 2 (sox2). When co-cultured with neonatal rat cardiomyocytes (NRCs), hAFS cells formed both mechanical and electrical connections with the NRCs. Dye transfer experiments showed that calcein dye could be transferred from NRCs to hAFS cells through cellular connections. The gap junction connexin43 likely involved in the communication between the two cell types, because 12-O-tetradecanoylphorbol 13-acetate (TPA) could partially block cellular crosstalk. We conclude that hAFS cells can be differentiated into a cardiomyocyte-like phenotype and can establish functional communication with NRCs. Thus, hAFS cells may potentially be used for cardiac cell therapy.

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