Background- Cardiac stem cells (CSCs) delivered to the infarcted heart generate a large number of small fetal-neonatal cardiomyocytes that fail to acquire the differentiated phenotype. However, the interaction of CSCs with postmitotic myocytes results in the formation of cells with adult characteristics. Methods and Results- On the basis of results of in vitro and in vivo assays, we report that the commitment of human CSCs (hCSCs) to the myocyte lineage and the generation of mature working cardiomyocytes are influenced by microRNA-499 (miR-499), which is barely detectable in hCSCs but is highly expressed in postmitotic human cardiomyocytes. miR-499 traverses gap junction channels and translocates to structurally coupled hCSCs favoring their differentiation into functionally competent cells. Expression of miR-499 in hCSCs represses the miR-499 target genes Sox6 and Rod1, enhancing cardiomyogenesis in vitro and after infarction in vivo. Although cardiac repair was detected in all cell-treated infarcted hearts, the aggregate volume of the regenerated myocyte mass and myocyte cell volume were greater in animals injected with hCSCs overexpressing miR-499. Treatment with hCSCs resulted in an improvement in ventricular function, consisting of a better preservation of developed pressure and positive and negative dP/dt after infarction. An additional positive effect on cardiac performance occurred with miR-499, pointing to enhanced myocyte differentiation/hypertrophy as the mechanism by which miR-499 potentiated the restoration of myocardial mass and function in the infarcted heart. Conclusions- The recognition that miR-499 promotes the differentiation of hCSCs into mechanically integrated cardiomyocytes has important clinical implications for the treatment of human heart failure.
- gap junctions
- stem cells
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine
- Physiology (medical)