Journal of molecular and cellular cardiology

Mechanism of automaticity in cardiomyocytes derived from human induced pluripotent stem cells.

PMID 25644533


The creation of cardiomyocytes derived from human induced pluripotent stem cells (hiPS-CMs) has spawned broad excitement borne out of the prospects to diagnose and treat cardiovascular diseases based on personalized medicine. A common feature of hiPS-CMs is their spontaneous contractions but the mechanism(s) remain uncertain. Intrinsic activity was investigated by the voltage-clamp technique, optical mapping of action potentials (APs) and intracellular Ca(2+) (Cai) transients (CaiT) at subcellular-resolution and pharmacological interventions. The frequency of spontaneous CaiT (sCaiT) in monolayers of hiPS-CMs was not altered by ivabradine, an inhibitor of the pacemaker current, If despite high levels of HCN transcripts (1-4). HiPS-CMs had negligible If and IK1 (inwardly-rectifying K(+)-current) and a minimum diastolic potential of -59.1±3.3mV (n=18). APs upstrokes were preceded by a depolarizing-foot coincident with a rise of Cai. Subcellular Cai wavelets varied in amplitude, propagated and died-off; larger Cai-waves triggered cellular sCaTs and APs. SCaiTs increased in frequency with [Ca(2+)]out (0.05-to-1.8mM), isoproterenol (1μM) or caffeine (100μM) (n≥5, p<0.05). HiPS-CMs became quiescent with ryanodine receptor stabilizers (K201=2μM); tetracaine; Na-Ca exchange (NCX) inhibition (SEA0400=2μM); higher [K(+)]out (5→8mM), and thiol-reducing agents but could still be electrically stimulated to elicit CaiTs. Cell-cell coupling of hiPS-CM in monolayers was evident from connexin-43 expression and CaiT propagation. SCaiTs from an ensemble of dispersed hiPS-CMs were out-of-phase but became synchronous through the outgrowth of inter-connecting microtubules. Automaticity in hiPS-CMs originates from a Ca(2+)-clock mechanism involving Ca(2+) cycling across the sarcoplasmic reticulum linked to NCX to trigger APs.