Ultrastructural comparison of developing mouse embryonic stem cell- and in vivo-derived cardiomyocytes


Corresponding author. Department of Stem Cells, Royan Institute, P.O. Box 19395-4644, Tehran, Islamic Republic of Iran. Tel.: +98 21 22172330; fax: +98 21 22409314. baharvand50@yahoo.com


Embryonic stem cells (ESCs) are expected to become a powerful tool for future regenerative medicine and developmental biology due to their capacity for self-renewal and pluripotency. The present study involves characterization and particularly, the ultrastructure of ESC-derived cardiomyocytes (ESC-CMs). Spontaneously differentiated murine (C57BL/6) ESC-CMs were cultured for 21 days. At different stages, growth characteristics of the CMs were assessed by immunocytochemistry, RT-PCR, transmission electron microscopy, and by addition of chronotropic drugs. EB-derived spontaneously beating cells expressed markers characteristic of CMs including α-actinin, desmin, troponin I, sarcomeric myosin heavy chain (MHC), pan-cadherin, connexin 43, cardiac α-MHC, cardiac β-MHC, atrial natriuretic factor (ANF), and myosin light chain isoform-2V (MLC-2V) and responded to drugs in a maturation- and dose-dependent manner. At the ultrasructural level, maturation proceeded with increasing time in culture. In 7 + 21 days CMs, all sarcomeric components, such as Z-discs, A-, I- and H-bands as well as M-lines, T-tubules, intercalated discs, and the sarcoplasmic reticulum were present. Our data suggest that ESCs can differentiate into functional mature CMs in vitro. Furthermore, ESC-CMs may provide an ideal model for the study of cardiomyocytic development and may be useful for cell therapy of various cardiac diseases.