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Activin A Modulates CRIPTO-1/HNF4 alpha(+) Cells to Guide Cardiac Differentiation from Human Embryonic Stem Cells

Journal Contribution - Journal Article

The use of human pluripotent stem cells in basic and translational cardiac research requires efficient differentiation protocols towards cardiomyocytes. In vitro differentiation yields heterogeneous populations of ventricular-, atrial-, and nodal-like cells hindering their potential applications in regenerative therapies. We described the effect of the growth factor Activin A during early human embryonic stem cell fate determination in cardiac differentiation. Addition of high levels of Activin A during embryoid body cardiac differentiation augmented the generation of endoderm derivatives, which in turn promoted cardiomyocyte differentiation. Moreover, a dose-dependent increase in the coreceptor expression of the TGF-β superfamily member CRIPTO-1 was observed in response to Activin A. We hypothesized that interactions between cells derived from meso- and endodermal lineages in embryoid bodies contributed to improved cell maturation in early stages of cardiac differentiation, improving the beating frequency and the percentage of contracting embryoid bodies. Activin A did not seem to affect the properties of cardiomyocytes at later stages of differentiation, measuring action potentials, and intracellular Ca2+ dynamics. These findings are relevant for improving our understanding on human heart development, and the proposed protocol could be further explored to obtain cardiomyocytes with functional phenotypes, similar to those observed in adult cardiac myocytes.
Journal: Stem Cells International
ISSN: 1687-966X
Volume: 2017
Number of pages: 17
Publication year:2017