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Cardiac Tissue Generated from Human Embryonic Stem Cells Displays Aspects of Both Mature and Immature Heart Muscle

By BiotechDaily International staff writers
Posted on 19 Feb 2014
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An in vitro model system based on cardiac tissue generated from human embryonic stem cells displayed some of the physiological responses known to occur in the natural adult human heart while other responses more closely mimicked the immature or newborn human heart.

Cardiac experimental biology and translational research would benefit from an in vitro surrogate for human heart muscle. To this end, investigators at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai (New York, NY, USA) studied the structural and functional properties and interventional responses of human engineered cardiac tissues (hECTs) compared to normal human heart tissues.

After transforming human embryonic stem cells into hECTs the investigators mixed them with collagen and cultured them on force-sensing elastomer devices that exercised the tissue and permitted measurement of its contractile force throughout the culture process.

Results published in the February 2014 issue of the FASEB Journal revealed that within seven to 10 days, the induced cardiac cells self-assembled into a three-dimensional strip of tissue that beat spontaneously in a manner similar to natural heart muscle. The cultured strips of tissue, which were able to survive for at least a month, displayed contractile activity in a rhythmic pattern of 70 beats per minute on average.

The heart tissue model responded to electrical and chemical stimulation and was able to incorporate new genetic information delivered by adenovirus gene therapy. During functional analysis, the hECTs displayed some responses known to occur in the natural adult human heart, while other responses more closely mimicked the immature or newborn human heart.

"We hope that our human engineered cardiac tissues will serve as a platform for developing reliable models of the human heart for routine laboratory use," said senior author Dr. Kevin D. Costa, associate professor of cardiology and at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai. "This could help accelerate and revolutionize cardiology research by improving the ability to efficiently discover, design, develop, and deliver new therapies for the treatment of heart disease, and by providing more efficient screening tools to identify and prevent cardiac side effects, ultimately leading to safer and more effective treatments for patients suffering from heart disease."

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Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai

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