Publication: Molecular therapy : the journal of the American Society of Gene Therapy
In this study, we proposed that the functionality or phenotype of differentiated cardiomyocytes derived from human induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSC-CMs) might be modified by co-culture with mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs), resulting in an improved therapeutic potential for failing myocardial tissues. Structural, motility, electrophysiological, and metabolic analyses revealed that iPSC-CMs co-cultured with MSCs displayed aligned myofibrils with A-, H-, and I-bands that could contract and relax quickly, indicating the promotion of differentiation and the establishment of the iPSC-CM structural framework, and showed clear gap junctions and an electric pacing of >2 Hz, indicating enhanced cell-cell interactions. In addition, soluble factors excreted by MSCs, including several cytokines and exosomes, enhanced cardiomyocyte-specific marker production, produced more energy under normal and stressed conditions, and reduced reactive oxygen species production by iPSC-CMs under stressed condition. Notably, gene ontology and pathway analysis revealed that microRNAs and proteins in the exosomes impacted the functionality and maturation of iPSC-CMs. Furthermore, cell sheets consisting of a mixture of iPSC-CMs and MSCs showed longer survival and enhanced therapeutic effects compared with those consisting of iPSC-CMs alone. This may lead to a new type of iPSC-based cardiomyogenesis therapy for patients with heart failure.