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Biomed Res Int. 2013;2013:696837. doi: 10.1155/2013/696837. Epub 2012 Dec 27.

High density sphere culture of adult cardiac cells increases the levels of cardiac and progenitor markers and shows signs of vasculogenesis.

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Department of Clinical Chemistry and Transfusion Medicine, Institute of Biomedicine, the Sahlgrenska Academy, University of Gothenburg, 413 45 Gothenburg, Sweden.


3D environment and high cell density play an important role in restoring and supporting the phenotypes of cells represented in cardiac tissues. The aim of this study was therefore to investigate the suitability of high density sphere (HDS) cultures for studies of cardiomyocyte-, endothelial-, and stem-cell biology. Primary adult cardiac cells from nine human biopsies were cultured using different media for up to 9 weeks. The possibilities to favor a certain cell phenotype and induce production of extra cellular matrix (ECM) were studied by histology, immunohistochemistry, and quantitative real-time PCR. Defined media gave significant increase in both cardiac- and progenitor-specific markers and also an intraluminal position of endothelial cells over time. Cardiac media showed indication of differentiation and maturity of HDS considering the ECM production and activities within NOTCH regulation but no additional cardiac differentiation. Endothelial media gave no positive effects on endothelial phenotype but increased proliferation without fibroblast overgrowth. In addition, indications for early vasculogenesis were found. It was also possible to affect the Wnt signaling in HDS by addition of a glycogen synthase kinase 3 (GSK3) inhibitor. In conclusion, these findings show the suitability of HDS as in vitro model for studies of cardiomyocyte-, endothelial-, and stem-cell biology.

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