Characterization of cytoskeleton features and maturation status of cultured human iPSC-derived cardiomyocytes

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Christian Zuppinger *
George Gibbons
Priyanka Dutta-Passecker
Adrian Segiser
Henriette Most
Thomas M. Suter
(*) Corresponding Author:
Christian Zuppinger |


Recent innovations in stem cell technologies and the availability of human induced pluripotent stem cell-derived cardiomyocytes (hiPSC-CMs) have opened new possibilities for studies and drug testing on human cardiomyocytes in vitro. Still, there are concerns about the precise nature of such ‘reprogrammed’ cells. We have performed an investigation using immunocytochemistry and confocal microscopy on several cellular features using commercially available hiPSC-CMs. For some selected developmentally regulated or cardiac chamber-specific proteins, we have compared the results from hiPSC-derived cardiomyocytes with freshly isolated, ventricular cardiomyocytes from adult rats. The results show that all typical cardiac proteins are expressed in these hiPSC-CMs. Furthermore, intercalated disc-like structures, calcium cycling proteins, and myofibrils are present. However, some of these proteins are only known from early developmental stages of the ventricular myocardium or the diseased adult heart. A heterogeneous expression pattern in the cell population was noted for some muscle proteins, such as for myosin light chains, or incomplete organization in sarcomeres, such as for telethonin. These observations indicate that hiPSC-CMs can be considered genuine human cardiomyocytes of an early developmental state. The here described marker proteins of maturation may become instrumental in future studies attempting the improvement of cardiomyocyte in vitro models. 

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