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Stem Cells Dev. 2006 Dec;15(6):931-41.

Human embryonic stem cell-derived cardiomyocytes can be maintained in defined medium without serum.

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Geron Corporation, Menlo Park, CA 94025, USA.


Current procedures for the maintenance of cardiomyocytes from human embryonic stem (hES) cells rely on either co-culture with mouse cells or medium containing fetal bovine serum (FBS). Due to exposure to animal products, these methods carry the risk of potential pathogen contamination and increased immunogenicity. Additionally, FBS introduces inherent variability in the cultures due to the inevitable differences in serum lots. Here we investigated whether a defined serum-free medium containing creatine, carnitine, taurine, and insulin (CCTI) could maintain hES cell-derived cardiomyocytes. We show that hES cell-derived cardiomyocytes maintained in the CCTI medium in the absence of any feeders exhibit similar phenotypes to those maintained in serum, as indicated by the following observations: (1) comparable levels of cardiac gene transcription were found in cells grown in serum-containing medium versus those in the CCTI medium; (2) cardiomyocyte-associated proteins were expressed in cells cultured in the CCTI medium; (3) beating cells in the CCTI medium responded to pharmacological agents in a dose-dependent manner; and (4) the vast majority of the beating embryoid bodies displayed ventricular-like action potentials (APs), and the ventricular cells in serum-containing medium and the CCTI medium had indistinguishable AP properties. Therefore, culturing hES cell-derived cardiomyocytes in serum-free medium as described here should facilitate the use of the cells for in vitro and in vivo applications.

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