Functional properties of human embryonic stem cell-derived cardiomyocytes: intracellular Ca2+ handling and the role of sarcoplasmic reticulum in the contraction. uri icon


  • Since cardiac transplantation is limited by the small availability of donor organs, regeneration of the diseased myocardium by cell transplantation is an attractive therapeutic modality. To determine the compatibility of human embryonic stem cell-derived cardiomyocytes (hESC-CMs) (7 to 55 days old) with the myocardium, we investigated their functional properties regarding intracellular Ca2+ handling and the role of the sarcoplasmic reticulum in the contraction. The functional properties of hESC-CMs were investigated by recording simultaneously [Ca2+]i transients and contractions. Additionally, we performed Western blot analysis of the Ca2+-handling proteins SERCA2, calsequestrin, phospholamban, and Na+/Ca2+ exchanger (NCX). Our major findings are, first, that hESC-CMs displayed temporally related [Ca2+]i transients and contractions, negative force-frequency relations, and lack of post-rest potentiation. Second, ryanodine, thapsigargin, and caffeine did not affect the [Ca2+]i transient and contraction, indicating that at this developmental stage, contraction depends on transsarcolemmal Ca2+ influx rather than on sarcoplasmic reticulum Ca2+ release. Third, in agreement with the notion that a voltage-dependent Ca2+ current is present in hESC-CMs and contributes to the mechanical function, verapamil completely blocked contraction. Fourth, whereas hESC-CMs expressed SERCA2 and NCX at levels comparable to those of the adult porcine myocardium, calsequestrin and phospholamban were not expressed. Our study shows for the first time that functional properties related to intracellular Ca2+ handling of hESC-CMs differ markedly from the adult myocardium, probably due to immature sarcoplasmic reticulum capacity.

publication date

  • February 2006