Introduction: Human induced pluripotent stem cell-derived cardiomyocytes (hiPSC-CMs) have recently been shown to express key cardiac proteins and improve in vivo cardiac function when administered following myocardial infarction. However, the efficacy of hiPSC-derived cell therapies, in direct comparison to current, well-established stem cell-based therapies, is yet to be elucidated. The goal of the current study was to compare the therapeutic efficacy of human mesenchymal stem cells (hMSCs) with hiPSC-CMs in mitigating myocardial infarction (MI).
Methods: Male athymic nude hyrats were subjected to permanent ligation of the left-anterior-descending (LAD) coronary artery to induce acute MI. Four experimental groups were studied: 1) control (non-MI), 2) MI, 3) hMSCs (MI+MSC), and 4) hiPSC-CMs (MI+hiPSC-derived cardiomyocytes). The hiPSC-CMs and hMSCs were labeled with superparamagnetic iron oxide (SPIO) in vitro to track the transplanted cells in the ischemic heart by high-field cardiac MRI. These cells were injected into the ischemic heart 30-min after LAD ligation. Four-weeks after MI, cardiac MRI was performed to track the transplanted cells in the infarct heart. Additionally, echocardiography (M-mode) was performed to evaluate the cardiac function. Immunohistological and western blot studies were performed to assess the cell tracking, engraftment and cardiac fibrosis in the infarct heart tissues.
Results: Echocardiography data showed a significantly improved cardiac function in the hiPSC-CMs and hMSCs groups, when compared to MI. Immunohistological studies showed expression of connexin-43, α-actinin and myosin heavy chain in engrafted hiPSC-CMs. Cardiac fibrosis was significantly decreased in hiPSC-CMs group when compared to hMSCs or MI groups. Overall, this study demonstrated improved cardiac function with decreased fibrosis with both hiPSC-CMs and hMSCs groups when compared with MI group.