Heart diseases are major causes of morbidity and mortality linked to extensive loss of cardiac cells. Embryonic stem cells (ESCs) give rise to cardiomyocyte-like cells, which may be used in heart cell replacement therapies. Most cardiogenic differentiation protocols involve the culture of ESCs as embryoid bodies (EBs). Stirred-suspension bioreactor cultures of ESC aggregates may be employed for scaling up the production of cardiomyocyte progeny but the wide range of EB sizes and the unknown effects of the hydrodynamic environment on differentiating EBs are some of the major challenges in tightly controlling the differentiation outcome. Here, we explored the cardiogenic potential of mouse ESCs (mESCs) and human ESCs (hESCs) encapsulated in poly-L-lysine (pLL)-coated alginate capsules. Liquefaction of the capsule core led to the formation of single ESC aggregates within each bead and their average size depended on the concentration of seeded ESCs. Encapsulated mESCs were directed along cardiomyogenic lineages in dishes under serum-free conditions with the addition of bone morphogenetic protein 4 (BMP4). Human ESCs in pLL-layered liquid core (LC) alginate beads were also differentiated towards heart cells in serum-containing media. Besides the robust cell proliferation, higher fractions of cells expressing cardiac markers were detected in ESCs encapsulated in LC than in solid beads. Furthermore, we demonstrated for the first time that ESCs encapsulated in pLL-layered LC alginate beads can be coaxed towards heart cells in stirred-suspension bioreactors. Encapsulated ESCs yielded higher fractions of Nkx2.5- and GATA4-positive cells in the bioreactor compared to dish cultures. Differentiated cells formed beating foci that responded to chronotropic agents in an organotypic manner. Our findings warrant further development and implementation of microencapsulation technologies in conjunction with bioreactor cultivation to enable the production of stem cell-derived cardiac cells appropriate for clinical therapies and applications.
Department of Chemical and Biological Engineering, State University of New York at Buffalo, Buffalo, NY, USA
Publication date: November 1, 2010
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Cell Transplantation publishes original, peer-reviewed research and review articles on the subject of cell transplantation and its application to human diseases. To ensure high-quality contributions from all areas of transplantation, separate section editors and editorial boards have been established. Articles deal with a wide range of topics including physiological, medical, preclinical, tissue engineering, and device-oriented aspects of transplantation of nervous system, endocrine, growth factor-secreting, bone marrow, epithelial, endothelial, and genetically engineered cells, among others. Basic clinical studies and immunological research papers are also featured. To provide complete coverage of this revolutionary field, Cell Transplantation will report on relevant technological advances, and ethical and regulatory considerations of cell transplants. Cell Transplantation is now an Open Access journal starting with volume 18 in 2009, and therefore there will be an inexpensive publication charge, which is dependent on the number of pages, in addition to the charge for color figures. This will allow work to be disseminated to a wider audience and also entitle the corresponding author to a free PDF, as well as prepublication of an unedited version of the manuscript.