Human induced pluripotent stem cells (hiPSC) possess significant therapeutic potential due to their high self-renewal capability and potential to differentiate into specialized cells such as cardiomyocytes. However, generated hiPSC-derived cardiomyocytes (hiPSC-CM) are still immature, with phenotypic and functional features resembling the fetal rather than their adult counterparts, which limits their application in cell-based therapies, in vitro cardiac disease modeling, and drug cardiotoxicity screening. Recent discoveries have demonstrated the potential of the extracellular matrix (ECM) as a critical regulator in development, homeostasis, and injury of the cardiac microenvironment. Within this context, this work aimed to assess the impact of human cardiac ECM in the phenotype and maturation features of hiPSC-CM. Human ECM was isolated from myocardium tissue through a physical decellularization approach. The cardiac tissue decellularization process reduced DNA content significantly while maintaining ECM composition in terms of sulfated glycosaminoglycans (s-GAG) and collagen content. These ECM particles were successfully incorporated in three-dimensional (3D) hiPSC-CM aggregates (CM+ECM) with no impact on viability and metabolic activity throughout 20 days in 3D culture conditions. Also, CM+ECM aggregates displayed organized and longer sarcomeres, with improved calcium handling when compared to hiPSC-CM aggregates. This study shows that human cardiac ECM functionalization of hiPSC-based cardiac tissues improves cardiomyocyte maturation. The knowledge generated herein provides essential insights to streamline the application of ECM in the development of hiPSC-based therapies targeting cardiac diseases.
- 3D culture
- cardiac tissue decellularization
- cardiomyocyte maturation
- extracellular matrix