Background: In recent years, resident cardiac progenitor cells have been identified in, and isolated from the rodent heart. These cells show the potential to form cardiomyocytes, smooth muscle cells, and endothelial cells in vitro and in vivo and could potentially be used as a source for cardiac repair. However, previously described cardiac progenitor cell populations show immature development and need co-culture with neonatal rat cardiomyocytes in order to differentiate in vitro. Here we describe the localisation, isolation, characterisation, and differentiation of cardiomyocyte progenitor cells (CMPCs) isolated from the human heart.
Methods: hCMPCs were identified in human hearts based on Sca-1 expression. These cells were isolated, and FACS, RT-PCR and immunocytochemistry were used to determine their baseline characteristics. Cardiomyogenic differentiation was induced by stimulation with 5-azacytidine.
Results: hCMPCs were localised within the atria, atrioventricular region, and epicardial layer of the foetal and adult human heart. In vitro, hCMPCs could be induced to differentiate into cardiomyocytes and formed spontaneously beating aggregates, without the need for co-culture with neonatal cardiomyocytes.
Conclusion: The human heart harbours a pool of resident cardiomyocyte progenitor cells, which can be expanded and differentiated in vitro. These cells may provide a suitable source for cardiac regeneration cell therapy. (Neth Heart J 2008;16:163-9.).
Keywords: cardiomyocytes; differentiation; human cardiac progenitor cell.