Human-induced pluripotent stem cell-derived cardiomyocytes (hiPS-CMs) have been recently derived and are used for basic research, cardiotoxicity assessment, and phenotypic screening. However, the hiPS-CM phenotype is dependent on their derivation, age, and culture conditions, and there is disagreement as to what constitutes a functional hiPS-CM. The aim of the present study is to characterize the temporal changes in hiPS-CM phenotype by examining five determinants of cardiomyocyte function: gene expression, ion channel functionality, calcium cycling, metabolic activity, and responsiveness to cardioactive compounds. Based on both gene expression and electrophysiological properties, at day 30 of differentiation, hiPS-CMs are immature cells that, with time in culture, progressively develop a more mature phenotype without signs of dedifferentiation. This phenotype is characterized by adult-like gene expression patterns, action potentials exhibiting ventricular atrial and nodal properties, coordinated calcium cycling and beating, suggesting the formation of a functional syncytium. Pharmacological responses to pathological (endothelin-1), physiological (IGF-1), and autonomic (isoproterenol) stimuli similar to those characteristic of isolated adult cardiac myocytes are present in maturing hiPS-CMs. In addition, thyroid hormone treatment of hiPS-CMs attenuated the fetal gene expression in favor of a more adult-like pattern. Overall, hiPS-CMs progressively acquire functionality when maintained in culture for a prolonged period of time. The description of this evolving phenotype helps to identify optimal use of hiPS-CMs for a range of research applications.
Keywords: human iPS-derived cardiomyocytes/hiPS-CM; in vitro differentiation; maturation.