Lupus Heart Disease Modeling with Combination of Induced Pluripotent Stem Cell-Derived Cardiomyocytes and Lupus Patient Serum

Int J Stem Cells. 2022 Aug 30;15(3):233-246. doi: 10.15283/ijsc21158. Epub 2021 Dec 31.


Background and objectives: Systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) is a chronic autoimmune disease mainly affecting young women of childbearing age. SLE affects the skin, joints, muscles, kidneys, lungs, and heart. Cardiovascular complications are common causes of death in patients with SLE. However, the complexity of the cardiovascular system and the rarity of SLE make it difficult to investigate these morbidities. Patient-derived induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs) serve as a novel tool for drug screening and pathophysiological studies in the absence of patient samples.

Methods and results: We differentiated CMs from HC- and SLE-iPSCs using 2D culture platforms. SLE-CMs showed decreased proliferation and increased levels of fibrosis and hypertrophy marker expression; however, HC-and SLE-monolayer CMs reacted differently to SLE serum treatment. HC-iPSCs were also differentiated into CMs using 3D spheroid culture and anti-Ro autoantibody was treated along with SLE serum. 3D-HC-CMs generated more mature CMs compared to the CMs generated using 2D culture. The treatment of anti-Ro autoantibody rapidly increased the gene expression of fibrosis, hypertrophy, and apoptosis markers, and altered the calcium signaling in the CMs.

Conclusions: iPSC derived cardiomyocytes with patient-derived serum, and anti-Ro antibody treatment could serve in effective autoimmune disease modeling including SLE. We believe that the present study might briefly provide possibilities on the application of a combination of patient-derived materials and iPSCs in disease modeling of autoimmune diseases.

Keywords: Cardiomyocytes; Induced pluripotent stem cells; Systemic lupus erythematosus.