Characterization of human-induced pluripotent stem cell-derived cardiomyocytes: bioenergetics and utilization in safety screening

Toxicol Sci. 2012 Nov;130(1):117-31. doi: 10.1093/toxsci/kfs233. Epub 2012 Jul 27.


Cardiotoxicity remains the number one reason for drug withdrawal from the market, and Food and Drug Administration issued black box warnings, thus demonstrating the need for more predictive preclinical safety screening, especially early in the drug discovery process when much chemical substrate is available. Whereas human-ether-a-go-go related gene screening has become routine to mitigate proarrhythmic risk, the development of in vitro assays predicting additional on- and off-target biochemical toxicities will benefit from cellular models exhibiting true cardiomyocyte characteristics such as native tissue-like mitochondrial activity. Human stem cell-derived tissue cells may provide such a model. This hypothesis was tested using a combination of flux analysis, gene and protein expression, and toxicity-profiling techniques to characterize mitochondrial function in induced pluripotent stem cell (iPSC) derived human cardiomyocytes in the presence of differing carbon sources over extended periods in cell culture. Functional analyses demonstrate that iPSC-derived cardiomyocytes are (1) capable of utilizing anaerobic or aerobic respiration depending upon the available carbon substrate and (2) bioenergetically closest to adult heart tissue cells when cultured in galactose or galactose supplemented with fatty acids. We utilized this model to test a variety of kinase inhibitors with known clinical cardiac liabilities for their potential toxicity toward these cells. We found that the kinase inhibitors showed a dose-dependent toxicity to iPSC cardiomyocytes grown in galactose and that oxygen consumption rates were significantly more affected than adenosine triphosphate production. Sorafenib was found to have the most effect, followed by sunitinib, dasatinib, imatinib, lapatinib, and nioltinib.

MeSH terms

  • Cell Differentiation
  • Cell Survival / drug effects
  • Cells, Cultured
  • Dose-Response Relationship, Drug
  • Drug Combinations
  • Energy Metabolism / drug effects*
  • Fatty Acids / pharmacology
  • Galactose / pharmacology
  • Glucose / pharmacology
  • Humans
  • Mitochondria / drug effects
  • Mitochondria / physiology
  • Myocytes, Cardiac / cytology*
  • Myocytes, Cardiac / drug effects*
  • Myocytes, Cardiac / physiology
  • Oxygen Consumption / drug effects
  • Pharmaceutical Preparations
  • Pluripotent Stem Cells / cytology*
  • Pluripotent Stem Cells / drug effects*
  • Pluripotent Stem Cells / physiology
  • Protein Kinase Inhibitors / pharmacology
  • Toxicity Tests
  • Xenobiotics / toxicity*


  • Drug Combinations
  • Fatty Acids
  • Pharmaceutical Preparations
  • Protein Kinase Inhibitors
  • Xenobiotics
  • Glucose
  • Galactose