Accumulating evidence suggests that human pluripotent stem cell-derived cardiomyocytes can affect “heart regeneration”, replacing injured cardiac scar tissue with concomitant electrical integration. However, electrically coupled graft cardiomyocytes were found to innately induce transient post-transplant ventricular tachycardia in recent large animal model transplantation studies. We hypothesised that these phenomena were derived from alterations in the grafted cardiomyocyte characteristics. In vitro experiments showed that human embryonic stem cell-derived cardiomyocytes (hESC-CMs) contain nodal-like cardiomyocytes that spontaneously contract faster than working-type cardiomyocytes. When transplanted into athymic rat hearts, proliferative capacity was lower for nodal-like than working-type cardiomyocytes with grafted cardiomyocytes eventually comprising only relatively matured ventricular cardiomyocytes. RNA-sequencing of engrafted hESC-CMs confirmed the increased expression of matured ventricular cardiomyocyte-related genes, and simultaneous decreased expression of nodal cardiomyocyte-related genes. Temporal engraftment of electrical excitable nodal-like cardiomyocytes may thus explain the transient incidence of post-transplant ventricular tachycardia, although further large animal model studies will be required to control post-transplant arrhythmia.
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