Transplantation of embryonic stem cell- or induced pluripotent stem cell-derived cardiomyocytes (CMs) represents one promising approach for the treatment of myocardial infarction and failing hearts. Cardiac differentiation systems from these pluripotent stem cells (PSCs) can also be employed to better understand early developmental biology, drug discovery, toxicology testing, and disease modeling. A prerequisite to attain these goals is the ability to generate functional CMs in an efficient and reliable way. The lack of CM maturation must also be overcome, and appropriate methods for introducing PSC-CMs into heart while maintaining cell viability must be optimized. The past few years have seen major advances both in the differentiation, characterization and application of these cells to biological systems. Here we review recent progress, especially those performed in China, in basic stem cell biology involving studies of cardiogenesis and CMs through PSC differentiation, approaches for chamber-specific CM differentiation, maturation processes involving regulation of intracellular Ca(2+) signals, and applications.
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