Mechanical Stress Promotes Maturation of Human Myocardium From Pluripotent Stem Cell-Derived Progenitors.
ABSTRACT: Recent advances in pluripotent stem cell biology and directed differentiation have identified a population of human cardiovascular progenitors that give rise to cardiomyocytes, smooth muscle, and endothelial cells. Because the heart develops from progenitors in 3D under constant mechanical load, we sought to test the effects of a 3D microenvironment and mechanical stress on differentiation and maturation of human cardiovascular progenitors into myocardial tissue. Progenitors were derived from embryonic stem cells, cast into collagen hydrogels, and left unstressed or subjected to static or cyclic mechanical stress. Compared to 2D culture, the unstressed 3D environment increased cardiomyocyte numbers and decreased smooth muscle numbers. Additionally, 3D culture suppressed smooth muscle ?-actin content, suggesting diminished cell maturation. Cyclic stress-conditioning increased expression of several cardiac markers, including ?-myosin heavy chain and cardiac troponin T, and the tissue showed enhanced calcium dynamics and force production. There was no effect of mechanical loading on cardiomyocyte or smooth muscle specification. Thus, 3D growth conditions favor cardiac differentiation from cardiovascular progenitors, whereas 2D conditions promote smooth muscle differentiation. Mechanical loading promotes cardiomyocyte structural and functional maturation. Culture in 3-D facilitates understanding how cues such as mechanical stress affect the differentiation and morphogenesis of distinct cardiovascular cell populations into organized, functional human cardiovascular tissue. Stem Cells 2015;33:2148-2157.
Project description:Platelet-derived growth factors (PDGFs) and their tyrosine kinase receptors play instrumental roles in embryonic organogenesis and diseases of adult organs. In particular, platelet-derived growth factor receptor-alpha (PDGFR?) is expressed by multipotent cardiovascular progenitors in mouse and human embryonic stem cell systems. Although cardiac PDGFR? expression has been studied in multiple species, little is known about its expression in the human heart. Using immunofluorescence, we analyzed PDGFR? expression in both human fetal and diseased adult hearts, finding strong expression in the interstitial cells of the epicardium, myocardium, and endocardium, as well as the coronary smooth muscle. Only rare endothelial cells and cardiomyocytes expressed PDGFR?. This pattern was consistent for both the fetal and adult diseased hearts, although more PDGFR?+ cardiomyocytes were noted in the latter. In vitro differentiation assays were then performed on the PDGFR?+ cell fraction isolated from the cardiomyocyte-depleted human fetal hearts. Protocols previously reported to direct differentiation to a cardiomyocyte (5-azacytidine), smooth muscle (PDGF-BB), or endothelial cell fates (vascular endothelial growth factor [VEGF]) were used. Although no significant cardiomyocyte differentiation was observed, PDGFR?+ cells generated significant numbers of smooth muscle cells (smooth muscle-?-actin+ and smooth muscle myosin+) and endothelial cells (CD31+). These data suggest that a subfraction of the cardiac PDGFR?+ populations are progenitors contributing predominantly to the vascular and mesenchymal compartments of the human heart. It may be possible to control the fate of these progenitors to promote vascularization or limit fibrosis in the injured heart.
Project description:The transforming growth factor-? (TGF?) family member Nodal promotes cardiogenesis, but the mechanism is unclear despite the relevance of TGF? family proteins for myocardial remodeling and regeneration.To determine the function(s) of TGF? family members during stem cell cardiogenesis.Murine embryonic stem cells were engineered with a constitutively active human type I Nodal receptor (caACVR1b) to mimic activation by Nodal and found to secrete a paracrine signal that promotes cardiogenesis. Transcriptome and gain- and loss-of-function studies identified the factor as TGF?2. Both Nodal and TGF? induced early cardiogenic progenitors in embryonic stem cell cultures at day 0 to 2 of differentiation. However, Nodal expression declines by day 4 due to feedback inhibition, whereas TGF? persists. At later stages (days 4-6), TGF? suppresses the formation of cardiomyocytes from multipotent Kdr(+) progenitors while promoting the differentiation of vascular smooth muscle and endothelial cells.Nodal induces TGF?, and both stimulate the formation of multipotent cardiovascular Kdr(+) progenitors. TGF?, however, becomes uniquely responsible for controlling subsequent lineage segregation by stimulating vascular smooth muscle and endothelial lineages and simultaneously blocking cardiomyocyte differentiation.
Project description:Isl1 and Nkx2-5-expressing cardiovascular progenitors play pivotal roles in cardiogenesis. Previously reported Cre-based fate-mapping studies showed that Isl1 progenitors contribute predominantly to the derivatives of the second heart field, and Nkx2-5 progenitors contributed mainly to the cardiomyocyte lineage. However, partial recombination of Cre reporter genes can complicate interpretation of Cre fate-mapping experiments. We found that a Gata4-based Cre-activated reporter was recombined by Isl1(Cre) and Nkx2-5(Cre) in a substantially broader domain than previously reported using standard Cre-activated reporters. The expanded Isl1 and Nkx2-5 cardiac fate maps were remarkably similar, and included extensive contributions to cardiomyocyte, endocardial, and smooth muscle lineages in all four cardiac chambers. These data indicate that Isl1 is expressed in progenitors of both primary and secondary heart fields, and that Nkx2-5 is expressed in progenitors of cardiac endothelium and smooth muscle, in addition to cardiomyocytes. These results have important implications for our understanding of cardiac lineage diversification in vivo, and for the interpretation of Cre-based fate maps.
Project description:In the past years, cardiovascular progenitor cells have been isolated from the human heart and characterized. Up to date, no studies have been reported in which the developmental potential of foetal and adult cardiovascular progenitors was tested simultaneously. However, intrinsic differences will likely affect interpretations regarding progenitor cell potential and application for regenerative medicine. Here we report a direct comparison between human foetal and adult heart-derived cardiomyocyte progenitor cells (CMPCs). We show that foetal and adult CMPCs have distinct preferences to differentiate into mesodermal lineages. Under pro-angiogenic conditions, foetal CMPCs form more endothelial but less smooth muscle cells than adult CMPCs. Foetal CMPCs can also develop towards adipocytes, whereas neither foetal nor adult CMPCs show significant osteogenic differentiation. Interestingly, although both cell types differentiate into heart muscle cells, adult CMPCs give rise to electrophysiologically more mature cardiomyocytes than foetal CMPCs. Taken together, foetal CMPCs are suitable for molecular cell biology and developmental studies. The potential of adult CMPCs to form mature cardiomyocytes and smooth muscle cells may be essential for cardiac repair after transplantation into the injured heart.
Project description:During heart development, a subpopulation of cells in the heart field maintains cardiac potential over several days of development and forms the myocardium and smooth muscle of the arterial pole. Using clonal and explant culture experiments, we show that these cells are a stem cell population that can differentiate into myocardium, smooth muscle and endothelial cells. The multipotent stem cells proliferate or differentiate into different cardiovascular cell fates through activation or inhibition of FGF and BMP signaling pathways. BMP promoted myocardial differentiation but not proliferation. FGF signaling promoted proliferation and induced smooth muscle differentiation, but inhibited myocardial differentiation. Blocking the Ras/Erk intracellular pathway promoted myocardial differentiation, while the PLCgamma and PI3K pathways regulated proliferation. In vivo, inhibition of both pathways resulted in predictable arterial pole defects. These studies suggest that myocardial differentiation of arterial pole progenitors requires BMP signaling combined with downregulation of the FGF/Ras/Erk pathway. The FGF pathway maintains the pool of proliferating stem cells and later promotes smooth muscle differentiation.
Project description:Myocardial infarction is the most prevalent of cardiovascular diseases and pharmacological interventions do not lead to restoration of the lost cardiomyocytes. Despite extensive stem cell therapy studies, clinical trials using cardiac progenitor cells have shown moderate results. Furthermore, differentiation of endogenous progenitors to mature cardiomyocytes is rarely reported. A metabolic switch from glucose to fatty acid oxidation occurs during cardiac development and cardiomyocyte maturation, however in vitro differentiation protocols do not consider the lack of fatty acids in cell culture media. The aim of this study was to assess the effect of this metabolic switch on control and differentiated adult cardiac progenitors, by fatty acid supplementation. Addition of oleic acid stimulated the peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor alpha pathway and led to maturation of the cardiac progenitors, both before and after transforming growth factor-beta 1 differentiation. Addition of oleic acid following differentiation increased expression of myosin heavy chain 7 and connexin 43. Also, total glycolytic metabolism increased, as did mitochondrial membrane potential and glucose and fatty acid transporter expression. This work provides new insights into the importance of fatty acids, and of peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor alpha, in cardiac progenitor differentiation. Harnessing the oxidative metabolic switch induced maturation of differentiated endogenous stem cells. (200 words).
Project description:The reproduction of reliable in vitro models of human skeletal muscle is made harder by the intrinsic 3D structural complexity of this tissue. Here we coupled engineered hydrogel with 3D structural cues and specific mechanical properties to derive human 3D muscle constructs ("myobundles") at the scale of single fibers, by using primary myoblasts or myoblasts derived from embryonic stem cells. To this aim, cell culture was performed in confined, laminin-coated micrometric channels obtained inside a 3D hydrogel characterized by the optimal stiffness for skeletal muscle myogenesis. Primary myoblasts cultured in our 3D culture system were able to undergo myotube differentiation and maturation, as demonstrated by the proper expression and localization of key components of the sarcomere and sarcolemma. Such approach allowed the generation of human myobundles of ~10 mm in length and ~120 ?m in diameter, showing spontaneous contraction 7 days after cell seeding. Transcriptome analyses showed higher similarity between 3D myobundles and skeletal signature, compared to that found between 2D myotubes and skeletal muscle, mainly resulting from expression in 3D myobundles of categories of genes involved in skeletal muscle maturation, including extracellular matrix organization. Moreover, imaging analyses confirmed that structured 3D culture system was conducive to differentiation/maturation also when using myoblasts derived from embryonic stem cells. In conclusion, our structured 3D model is a promising tool for modelling human skeletal muscle in healthy and diseases conditions.
Project description:Recent advances in pluripotent stem cell research have provided investigators with potent sources of cardiogenic cells. However, tissue engineering methodologies to assemble cardiac progenitors into aligned, 3-dimensional (3D) myocardial tissues capable of physiologically relevant electrical conduction and force generation are lacking. In this study, we introduced 3D cell alignment cues in a fibrin-based hydrogel matrix to engineer highly functional cardiac tissues from genetically purified mouse embryonic stem cell-derived cardiomyocytes (CMs) and cardiovascular progenitors (CVPs). Procedures for CM and CVP derivation, purification, and functional differentiation in monolayer cultures were first optimized to yield robust intercellular coupling and maximize velocity of action potential propagation. A versatile soft-lithography technique was then applied to reproducibly fabricate engineered cardiac tissues with controllable size and 3D architecture. While purified CMs assembled into a functional 3D syncytium only when supplemented with supporting non-myocytes, purified CVPs differentiated into cardiomyocytes, smooth muscle, and endothelial cells, and autonomously supported the formation of functional cardiac tissues. After a total culture time similar to period of mouse embryonic development (21 days), the engineered cardiac tissues exhibited unprecedented levels of 3D organization and functional differentiation characteristic of native neonatal myocardium, including: 1) dense, uniformly aligned, highly differentiated and electromechanically coupled cardiomyocytes, 2) rapid action potential conduction with velocities between 22 and 25 cm/s, and 3) significant contractile forces of up to 2 mN. These results represent an important advancement in stem cell-based cardiac tissue engineering and provide the foundation for exploiting the exciting progress in pluripotent stem cell research in the future tissue engineering therapies for heart disease.
Project description:Different populations of cardiovascular progenitor cells have been shown to possess varying differentiation potentials. They have also been used to facilitate heart repair. However, sensitive reporter cell lines that mark the human cardiovascular progenitors are in short supply. Methods: MESP1 marks the earliest population of cardiovascular progenitor cells during embryo development. Here, we generated a homozygous MESP1 knock-in reporter hESC line where mTomato gene joined to the MESP1 coding region via a 2A peptide, in which both MESP1 alleles were preserved. We performed transcriptome and functional analysis of human MESP1+ cardiovascular progenitor cells and tested their therapeutic potential using a rat model of myocardial infarction. Results: MESP1-mTomato knock-in reporter faithfully recapitulated the endogenous level of MESP1. Transcriptome analysis revealed that MESP1+ cells highly expressed early cardiovascular genes and heart development genes. The activation of MESP1 relied on the strength of canonical Wnt signaling, peak MESP1-mTomato fluorescence correlated with the window of canonical Wnt inhibition during in vitro differentiation. We further showed that MESP1 bound to the promoter of the WNT5A gene and the up-regulation of WNT5A expression suppressed canonical Wnt/?-CATENIN signaling. Moreover, induced MESP1 expression could substitute the canonical Wnt inhibition step and promote robust cardiomyocyte formation. We used a configurable, chemically defined, tri-lineage differentiation system to obtain cardiomyocytes, endothelial cells, and smooth muscle cells from MESP1+ cells at high efficiency. Finally, we showed that the engraftment of MESP1+ cells repaired rat myocardial infarction model. Conclusions: MESP1-mTomato reporter cells offered a useful platform to study cardiovascular differentiation from human pluripotent stem cells and explore their therapeutic potential in regenerative medicine.
Project description:The non-muscular cells that populate the space found between cardiomyocyte fibers are known as 'cardiac interstitial cells' (CICs). CICs are heterogeneous in nature and include different cardiac progenitor/stem cells, cardiac fibroblasts and other cell types. Upon heart damage CICs soon respond by initiating a reparative response that transforms with time into extensive fibrosis and heart failure. Despite the biomedical relevance of CICs, controversy remains on the ontogenetic relationship existing between the different cell kinds homing at the cardiac interstitium, as well as on the molecular signals that regulate their differentiation, maturation, mutual interaction and role in adult cardiac homeostasis and disease. Our work focuses on the analysis of epicardial-derived cells, the first cell type that colonizes the cardiac interstitium. We present here a characterization and an experimental analysis of the differentiation potential and mobilization properties of a new cell line derived from mouse embryonic epicardium (EPIC). Our results indicate that these cells express some markers associated with cardiovascular stemness and retain part of the multipotent properties of embryonic epicardial derivatives, spontaneously differentiating into smooth muscle, and fibroblast/myofibroblast-like cells. Epicardium-derived cells are also shown to initiate a characteristic response to different growth factors, to display a characteristic proteolytic expression profile and to degrade biological matrices in 3D in vitro assays. Taken together, these data indicate that EPICs are relevant to the analysis of epicardial-derived CICs, and are a god model for the research on cardiac fibroblasts and the role these cells play in ventricular remodeling in both ischemic or non/ischemic myocardial disease.