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Circ Res. 2002 Sep 20;91(6):501-8.

Characterization and enrichment of cardiomyocytes derived from human embryonic stem cells.

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Geron Corporation, Menlo Park, Calif 94025, USA.


Cell replacement therapy is a promising approach for the treatment of cardiac diseases, but is challenged by a limited supply of appropriate cells. We have investigated whether functional cardiomyocytes can be efficiently generated from human embryonic stem (hES) cells. Cardiomyocyte differentiation was evaluated using 3 parent (H1, H7, and H9) hES cell lines and 2 clonal (H9.1 and H9.2) hES cell lines. All cell lines examined differentiated into cardiomyocytes, even after long-term culture (50 passages or approximately 260 population doublings). Upon differentiation, beating cells were observed after one week in differentiation conditions, increased in numbers with time, and could retain contractility for over 70 days. The beating cells expressed markers characteristic of cardiomyocytes, such as cardiac alpha-myosin heavy chain, cardiac troponin I and T, atrial natriuretic factor, and cardiac transcription factors GATA-4, Nkx2.5, and MEF-2. In addition, cardiomyocyte differentiation could be enhanced by treatment of cells with 5-aza-2'-deoxycytidine but not DMSO or retinoic acid. Furthermore, the differentiated cultures could be dissociated and enriched by Percoll density centrifugation to give a population containing 70% cardiomyocytes. The enriched population was proliferative and showed appropriate expression of cardiomyocyte markers. The extended replicative capacity of hES cells and the ability to differentiate and enrich for functional human cardiomyocytes warrant further development of these cells for clinical application in heart diseases.

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