Human embryonic stem cells (hESCs) are a pluripotent cell type considered to have high potential for the treatment of cardiovascular disease by cell replacement therapies. Several groups have shown that hESCs can be differentiated in vitro into cardiac myocytes, which may be used to facilitate tissue regeneration by injection directly into damaged myocardium. However, several hurdles still need to be overcome before these cells can be used in clinical trials. In particular, because transplanted hESC-cardiac myocytes should integrate fully within the damaged heart, these cells must be functionally compatible with the host myocardium. To assess this aspect of hESC-cardiac myocytes, Brito-Martins et al. (2008) in this issue of the BJP, describe the responses of hESC-cardiac myocytes to β-adrenoceptor stimulation, compared to those of myocytes from adult human hearts. Data obtained using specific β-adrenoceptor agonists showed good compatibility of hESC-cardiac myocytes with adult human myocardium in terms of β-adrenoceptor response.
British Journal of Pharmacology (2008) 153, 625–626; doi:10.1038/sj.bjp.0707633; published online 14 January 2008