Geometric control of cardiomyogenic induction in human pluripotent stem cells

Tissue Eng Part A. 2011 Aug;17(15-16):1901-9. doi: 10.1089/ten.TEA.2010.0563. Epub 2011 Apr 25.


Although it has been observed that aggregate size affects cardiac development, an incomplete understanding of the cellular mechanisms underlying human pluripotent stem cell-derived cardiomyogenesis has limited the development of robust defined-condition cardiac cell generation protocols. Our objective was thus to elucidate cellular and molecular mechanisms underlying the endogenous control of human embryonic stem cell (hESC) cardiac tissue development, and to test the hypothesis that hESC aggregate size influences extraembryonic endoderm (ExE) commitment and cardiac inductive properties. hESC aggregates were generated with 100, 1000, or 4000 cells per aggregate using microwells. The frequency of endoderm marker (FoxA2 and GATA6)-expressing cells decreased with increasing aggregate size during early differentiation. Cardiogenesis was maximized in aggregates initiated from 1000 cells, with frequencies of 0.49±0.06 cells exhibiting a cardiac progenitor phenotype (KDR(low)/C-KIT(neg)) on day 5 and 0.24±0.06 expressing cardiac Troponin T on day 16. A direct relationship between ExE and cardiac differentiation efficiency was established by forming aggregates with varying ratios of SOX7 (a transcription factor required for ExE development) overexpressing or knockdown hESCs to unmanipulated hESCs. We demonstrate, in a defined, serum-free cardiac induction system, that robust and efficient cardiac differentiation is a function of endogenous ExE cell concentration, a parameter that can be directly modulated by controlling hESC aggregate size.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Cell Aggregation
  • Cell Differentiation
  • Cell Line
  • Cell Lineage
  • Cell Shape*
  • Cell Size
  • Embryoid Bodies / cytology
  • Embryonic Stem Cells / cytology
  • Embryonic Stem Cells / metabolism
  • Endoderm / cytology
  • Humans
  • Myocytes, Cardiac / cytology*
  • Myocytes, Cardiac / metabolism
  • Pluripotent Stem Cells / cytology*
  • Pluripotent Stem Cells / metabolism