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Electrical Stimulation Provides Conditioning Cues for Generation of Mature Heart Muscle Cells from Human Pluripotent Stem Cells

Researchers led by Gordana Vunjak-Novakovic, the Mikati Foundation Professor of Biomedical Engineering and Medical Sciences at Columbia University, have for the first time demonstrated that electrical conditioning of stem cell-derived cardiomyocytes in three-dimensional culture promotes cardiomyocyte maturation. The therapeutic success of human stem cell-derived cardiomyocytes critically depends on their ability to respond to and integrate with the surrounding electromechanical environment. Dr. Vunjak-Novakovic’s team showed that cardiomyocytes adapt their autonomous beating rate to the frequency at which they were stimulated, an effect mediated by the emergence of a rapidly depolarizing cell population. This rate-adaptive behaviour is long lasting and transferable to the surrounding cardiomyocytes. In summary, this exciting discovery sheds some light on more effective stem cell therapy of the heart by preconditioning human stem cell-derived cardiomyocytes with electrical stimulation.

Eng G, Lee BW, Protas L, Gagliardi M, Brown K, Kass RS, Keller G, Robinson RB, Vunjak-Novakovic G. Autonomous Beating Rate Adaptation in Human Stem Cell-derived Cardiomyocytes. Nature Communications. 7:10312 (2016).