Structural immaturity of human iPSC-derived cardiomyocytes: In silico investigation of effects on function and disease modeling

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Background: Human induced pluripotent stem cell-derived cardiomyocytes (hiPSC-CMs) have emerged as a promising experimental tool for translational heart research and drug development. However, their usability as a human adult cardiomyocyte model is limited by their functional immaturity. Our aim is to analyse quantitatively those characteristics and how they differ from adult CMs. Methods and Results: We have developed a novel in silico model with all essential functional electrophysiology and calcium handling features of hiPSC-CMs. Importantly, the virtual cell recapitulates the immature intracellular ion dynamics that are characteristic for hiPSC-CMs, as quantified based our in vitro imaging data. The strong "calcium clock" is a source for a dual function of excitation-contraction coupling in hiPSC-CMs: action potential and calcium transient morphology vary substantially depending on the activation sequence of underlying ionic currents and fluxes that is altered in spontaneous vs. paced mode. Furthermore, parallel simulations with hiPSC-CM and adult cardiomyocyte models demonstrate the central differences. Results indicate that hiPSC-CMs translate poorly the disease specific phenotypes of Brugada syndrome, long QT Syndrome and catecholaminergic polymorphic ventricular tachycardia, showing less robustness and greater tendency for arrhythmic events than adult CMs. Based on a comparative sensitivity analysis, hiPSC-CMs share some features with adult CMs, but are still functionally closer to prenatal CMs than adult CMs. A database analysis of 3000 hiPSC-CM model variants suggests that hiPSC-CMs recapitulate poorly fundamental physiological properties of adult CMs. Single modifications do not appear to solve this problem, which is mostly contributed by the immaturity of intracellular calcium handling. Conclusion: Our data indicates that translation of findings from hiPSC-CMs to human disease should be made with great caution. Furthermore, we established a mathematical platform that can be used to improve the translation from hiPSC-CMs to human, and to quantitatively evaluate hiPSC-CMs development toward more general and valuable model for human cardiac diseases.




Koivumäki, J. T., Naumenko, N., Tuomainen, T., Takalo, J., Oksanen, M., Puttonen, K. A., … Tavi, P. (2018). Structural immaturity of human iPSC-derived cardiomyocytes: In silico investigation of effects on function and disease modeling. Frontiers in Physiology, 9(FEB).

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