Article: article from journal or magazin.
Isolation of cardiovascular precursor cells from the human fetal heart.
Tissue Engineering. Part A
Publication types: Journal Article ; Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov'tPublication Status: ppublish
Weakening of cardiac function in patients with heart failure results from a loss of cardiomyocytes in the damaged heart. Cell replacement therapies as a way to induce myocardial regeneration in humans could represent attractive alternatives to classical drug-based approaches. However, a suitable source of precursor cells, which could produce a functional myocardium after transplantation, remains to be identified. In the present study, we isolated cardiovascular precursor cells from ventricles of human fetal hearts at 12 weeks of gestation. These cells expressed Nkx2.5 but not late cardiac markers such as α-actinin and troponin I. In addition, proliferating cells expressed the mesenchymal stem cell markers CD73, CD90, and CD105. Evidence for functional cardiogenic differentiation in vitro was demonstrated by the upregulation of cardiac gene expression as well as the appearance of cells with organized sarcomeric structures. Importantly, differentiated cells presented spontaneous and triggered calcium signals. Differentiation into smooth muscle cells was also detected. In contrast, precursor cells did not produce endothelial cells. The engraftment and differentiation capacity of green fluorescent protein (GFP)-labeled cardiac precursor cells were then tested in vivo after transfer into the heart of immunodeficient severe combined immunodeficient mice. Engrafted human cells were readily detected in the mouse myocardium. These cells retained their cardiac commitment and differentiated into α-actinin-positive cardiomyocytes. Expression of connexin-43 at the interface between GFP-labeled and endogenous cardiomyocytes indicated that precursor-derived cells connected to the mouse myocardium. Together, these results suggest that human ventricular nonmyocyte cells isolated from fetal hearts represent a suitable source of precursors for cell replacement therapies.
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