Use of a neonatal rat system as a bioincubator to generate adult-like mature cardiomyocytes from human and mouse pluripotent stem cells
Authors and Affiliations
Pluripotent stem cells (PSCs), including induced PSCs, hold great potential for personalized disease modeling, drug testing and cell-based therapeutics. However, cells differentiated from PSCs remain immature in a dish, and thus there are serious caveats to their use in modeling adult-onset diseases such as cardiomyopathies and Alzheimer's disease. By taking advantage of knowledge gained about mammalian development and from bioinformatics analyses, we recently developed a neonatal rat system that enables maturation of PSC-derived cardiomyocytes into cardiomyocytes analogous to those seen in adult animals. Here we describe a detailed protocol that describes how to initiate the in vitro differentiation of mouse and human PSCs into cardiac progenitor cells, followed by intramyocardial delivery of the progenitor cells into neonatal rat hearts, in vivo incubation and analysis. The entire process takes ~6 weeks, and the resulting cardiomyocytes can be analyzed for morphology, function and gene expression. The neonatal system provides a valuable tool for understanding the maturation and pathogenesis of adult human heart muscle cells, and this concept may be expanded to maturing other PSC-derived cell types, including those containing mutations that lead to the development of diseases in the adult.