Abstract 577: Origin and Therapeutic Efficacy of Human Cardiac Progenitor Cells
To establish whether progenitor cells are present in the human heart (hCPCs) and have phenotypic properties distinct from human hematopoietic stem cells (hHSCs), samples of human myocardium were enzymatically dissociated and c-kit-positive-cells were sorted and plated immediately to obtain clones derived from single founder cells. By FACS analysis, freshly isolated hCPCs comprised 1.1±1.0% of the population and were negative for HSC markers, CD34 and CD133, and KDR. They were also negative for epitopes of monocytes, CD14 and CD16, mast cells, CD45, and lymphocytes, CD3 and CD20. The phenotype of hCPCs was completely different from that of human bone marrow cells which were positive for these surface antigens. Only small fractions of hCPCs expressed GATA4 and Nkx2.5. Of 1,530 seeded hCPCs, 11 clones were generated accounting for 0.7% cloning efficiency. Subsequently, these cells were injected in immunodeficient mice and rats at the time of coronary occlusion and 5 days after infarction. This was done to assess whether hCPCs differentiated into myocytes and coronary vessels immediately after ischemic injury and in the presence of a well-developed infarct. In both cases, hCPCs regenerated the infarcted myocardium. Connexin 43 and N-cadherin were detected between recipient rodent myocytes and newly formed human myocytes. The problem was then whether the structural integration of these two myocyte populations had a physiological counterpart. Studies were performed using an ex vivo preparation together with two-photon microscopy and laser line-scan imaging. EGFP-positive-hCPCs were injected in infarcted mice and the heart was studied 2-weeks later. The heart was perfused with an oxygenated Tyrode solution containing the calcium indicator Rhod-2 and stimulated at 1 Hz. Calcium transients was recorded in EGFP positive human myocytes and EGFP negative mouse myocytes. The synchronicity in calcium tracings between these two distinct cell pools was apparent, pointing to the functional integration of newly formed EGFP-positive human myocytes with the surrounding EGFP-negative mouse myocytes. Thus, the human heart contains hCPCs which are not of bone marrow origin and possess the ability to acquire the cardiomyocyte and coronary vascular cell lineages.