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Adv Drug Deliv Rev. 2016 Jan 15;96:253-73.

The electrophysiological development of cardiomyocytes.


The generation of human cardiomyocytes (CMs) from human pluripotent stem cells (hPSCs) has become an important resource for modeling human cardiac disease and for drug screening, and also holds significant potential for cardiac regeneration. Many challenges remain to be overcome however, before innovation in this field can translate into a change in the morbidity and mortality associated with heart disease. Of particular importance for the future application of this technology is an improved understanding of the electrophysiologic characteristics of CMs, so that better protocols can be developed and optimized for generating hPSC-CMs. Many different cell culture protocols are currently utilized to generate CMs from hPSCs and all appear to yield relatively “developmentally” immature CMs with highly heterogeneous electrical properties. These hPSC-CMs are characterized by spontaneous beating at highly variable rates with a broad range of depolarization-repolarization patterns, suggestive of mixed populations containing atrial, ventricular and nodal cells. Many recent studies have attempted to introduce approaches to promote maturation and to create cells with specific functional properties. In this review, we summarize the studies in which the electrical properties of CMs derived from stem cells have been examined. In order to place this information in a useful context, we also review the electrical properties of CMs as they transition from the developing embryo to the adult human heart. The signal pathways involved in the regulation of ion channel expression during development are also briefly considered.

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