Fetal heart extract facilitates the differentiation of human umbilical cord blood-derived mesenchymal stem cells into heart muscle precursor cells.
Human umbilical cord blood-derived mesenchymal stem cells (UCB-MSCs) are a promising stem cell source with the potential to modulate the immune system as well as the capacity to differentiate into osteoblasts, chondrocytes, and adipocytes. In previous publications, UCB-MSCs have been successfully differentiated into cardiomyocytes. This study aimed to improve the efficacy of differentiation of UCB-MSCs into cardiomyocytes by combining 5-azacytidine (Aza) with mouse fetal heart extract (HE) in the induction medium. UCB-MSCs were isolated from umbilical cord blood according to a published protocol. Murine fetal hearts were used to produce fetal HE using a rapid freeze-thaw procedure. MSCs at the 3rd to 5th passage were differentiated into cardiomyocytes in two kinds of induction medium: complete culture medium plus Aza (Aza group) and complete culture medium plus Aza and fetal HE (Aza + HE group). The results showed that the cells in both kinds of induction medium exhibited the phenotype of cardiomyocytes. At the transcriptional level, the cells expressed a number of cardiac muscle-specific genes such as Nkx2.5, Gata 4, Mef2c, HCN2, hBNP, α-Ca, cTnT, Desmin, and β-MHC on day 27 in the Aza group and on day 18 in the Aza + HE group. At the translational level, sarcomic α-actin was expressed on day 27 in the Aza group and day 18 in the Aza + HE group. Although they expressed specific genes and proteins of cardiac muscle cells, the induced cells in both groups did not contract and beat spontaneously. These properties are similar to properties of heart muscle precursor cells in vivo. These results demonstrated that the fetal HE facilitates the differentiation process of human UCB-MSCs into heart muscle precursor cells.
- [PubMed – as supplied by publisher]