Defined Engineered Human Myocardium with Advanced Maturation for Applications in Heart Failure Modelling and Repair
Background—Advancing structural and functional maturation of stem cell-derived cardiomyocytes remains a key challenge for applications in disease modelling, drug screening, and heart repair. Here, we sought to advance cardiomyocyte maturation in engineered human myocardium (EHM) towards an adult phenotype under defined conditions.
Methods—We systematically investigated cell composition, matrix and media conditions to generate EHM from embryonic and induced pluripotent stem cell-derived cardiomyocytes and fibroblasts with organotypic functionality under serum-free conditions. We employed morphological, functional, and transcriptome analyses to benchmark maturation of EHM.
Results—EHM demonstrated important structural and functional properties of postnatal myocardium, including: (1) rod-shaped cardiomyocytes with M-bands assembled as a functional syncytium; (2) systolic twitch forces at a similar level as observed in bona fide postnatal myocardium; (3) a positive force-frequency-response; (4) inotropic responses to β-adrenergic stimulation mediated via canonical ⓵- and ⓶-adrenoceptor signaling pathways; and (5) evidence for advanced molecular maturation by transcriptome profiling. EHM responded to chronic catecholamine toxicity with contractile dysfunction, cardiomyocyte hypertrophy, cardiomyocyte death, and NT-proBNP release; all are classical hallmarks of heart failure. Additionally, we demonstrate scalability of EHM according to anticipated clinical demands for cardiac repair.
Conclusions—We provide proof-of-concept for a universally applicable technology for the engineering of macro-scale human myocardium for disease modelling and heart repair from embryonic and induced pluripotent stem cell-derived cardiomyocytes under defined, serum-free conditions.
- heart repair
- disease modeling
- tissue engineering
- stem cell
- cardiomyocyte hypertrophy
- Received June 24, 2016.
- Revision received January 9, 2017.
- Accepted January 23, 2017.