Generation of spatial-patterned early-developing cardiac organoids using human pluripotent stem cells

Nat Protoc. 2018 Apr;13(4):723-737. doi: 10.1038/nprot.2018.006. Epub 2018 Mar 15.


The creation of human induced pluripotent stem cells (hiPSCs) has provided an unprecedented opportunity to study tissue morphogenesis and organ development through 'organogenesis-in-a-dish'. Current approaches to cardiac organoid engineering rely on either direct cardiac differentiation from embryoid bodies (EBs) or generation of aligned cardiac tissues from predifferentiated cardiomyocytes from monolayer hiPSCs. To experimentally model early cardiac organogenesis in vitro, our protocol combines biomaterials-based cell patterning with stem cell organoid engineering. 3D cardiac microchambers are created from 2D hiPSC colonies; these microchambers approximate an early-development heart with distinct spatial organization and self-assembly. With proper training in photolithography microfabrication, maintenance of human pluripotent stem cells, and cardiac differentiation, a graduate student with guidance will likely be able to carry out this experimental protocol, which requires ∼3 weeks. We envisage that this in vitro model of human early heart development could serve as an embryotoxicity screening assay in drug discovery, regulation, and prescription for healthy fetal development. We anticipate that, when applied to hiPSC lines derived from patients with inherited diseases, this protocol can be used to study the disease mechanisms of cardiac malformations at an early stage of embryogenesis.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Heart / growth & development*
  • Humans
  • Induced Pluripotent Stem Cells*
  • Models, Biological
  • Organ Culture Techniques / methods*
  • Organogenesis*
  • Organoids / growth & development*