Establishment of isolation and expansion protocols for human cardiac C-kit-positive progenitor cells for stem cell therapy

Transplant Proc. Jan-Feb 2013;45(1):420-6. doi: 10.1016/j.transproceed.2012.08.017.


Although cardiac stem cells (CSCs) have emerged in regeneration research, the number of isolated CSCs is low, making a sufficient supply of functional elements an important consideration in cardiovascular research. In this study, we established an efficient method for CSC isolation. We directly compared cultures of single cells to human cardiac-derived c-kit-positive progenitor cells (hCPCs(c-kit+)). The two protocols employed enzymatically digested hCPCs(c-kit+) (ED-hCPCs) with tissue-expanded hCPC(c-kit+) (TE-hCPCs). Using fluorescence-activated cell sorting, we showed the concentration of c-kit in TE-hCPCs to be higher than in ED-hCPCs, although the total number of c-kit positive cells resulting from ED-hCPCs was similar to that resulting from TE-hCPCs. The cardiomyocyte-associated proteins, GATA4 and Nkx2-5, which were expressed during hCPCs expansion, did not differ between the isolation methods. Importantly, the expression of the CSC stem cell marker, c-kit, was more efficiently preserved using the ED-hCPCs versus the TE-hCPCs method. In a cell proliferation assay, the ED-hCPCs method produced a significantly greater number of cells. Finally, hCPCs derived using both protocols differentiated into endothelial, smooth muscle, and cardiomyocyte lineages. In conclusion, the single-cell culture protocol using an enzymatic digestion method may be more useful to isolate human cardiac-derived c-kit-positive elements compared with the tissue expansion method.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Cell Culture Techniques*
  • Cell Differentiation
  • Cell Lineage
  • Cell Separation
  • Endothelial Cells / cytology
  • Flow Cytometry
  • Heart Diseases / metabolism
  • Humans
  • Myocytes, Cardiac / cytology
  • Myocytes, Smooth Muscle / cytology
  • Platelet Endothelial Cell Adhesion Molecule-1 / metabolism
  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins c-kit / metabolism*
  • Regeneration
  • Stem Cell Transplantation
  • Stem Cells / cytology*


  • Platelet Endothelial Cell Adhesion Molecule-1
  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins c-kit