Skin cells can be used to treat injured hearts

January 8, 2016
Center for iPS Cell Research and Application – Kyoto University
Cell therapies for heart ailments involve transplanting over a billion heart cells to the patient’s heart. Many of these cells fail to engraft, however, compromising the benefits. One reason for the poor engraftment is that normally the heart cell population is a mixture of cells with different maturation. Researchers have now identified an ideal maturation stage that enhances engraftment and may reduce the number of cells required for therapy.

Heart cells are shown. Blue indicates nuclei.
Credit: Yoshida Laboratory, CiRA, Kyoto University

One reason for the engraftment problem is the quality of the heart cells. For a typical cell therapy, heart cells are made from different stem cells, but the quality of the heart cells will vary. In particular, the maturation of the heart cells will be different. “Cells of different maturation will be mixed and transplanted together,” said Dr. Shunsuke Funakoshi, a scientist at the Center for iPS Research and Applications (CiRA), Kyoto University, and first author of a new study that investigated the optimal maturation of heart cells for the transplant, leading him to wonder if maturation is a factor in engraftment.

Under the direction of Senior Lecturer Yoshinori Yoshida, Funakoshi took induced pluripotent stem (iPS) cells that were reprogrammed from skin cells and made them into heart cells. Heart cells differentiated from iPS cells effectively go through all stages of development. “Heart cells at different stages could behave very differently,” said Fukakoshi. He therefore prepared heart cells of different maturation and transplanted them into damaged hearts of living mice. Hearts that received cells differentiated for 20 days showed much better engraftment than those that received cells differentiated for more or less, suggesting there exists an optimal maturation stage for cell therapies. However, Funakoshi cautions which day for human patients cannot be determined from this study. “We need to test animals bigger than mice,” he said.

Currently, over a billion cells are needed for human heart cell therapies. Knowing which cells are best for the therapy should not only improve patient outcome, but also reduce the number of cells required, which would further reduce both the time of the preparation and invasiveness of the procedure.

Story Source:

The above post is reprinted from materials provided by Center for iPS Cell Research and Application – Kyoto University. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.

Journal Reference:

  1. Shunsuke Funakoshi, Kenji Miki, Tadashi Takaki, Chikako Okubo, Takeshi Hatani, Kazuhisa Chonabayashi, Misato Nishikawa, Ikue Takei, Akiko Oishi, Megumi Narita, Masahiko Hoshijima, Takeshi Kimura, Shinya Yamanaka, Yoshinori Yoshida. Enhanced engraftment, proliferation, and therapeutic potential in heart using optimized human iPSC-derived cardiomyocytes. Scientific Reports, 2016; 6: 19111 DOI: 10.1038/srep19111

Cite This Page:

Center for iPS Cell Research and Application – Kyoto University. “Using skin to save the heart: Skin cells can be used to treat injured hearts.” ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 8 January 2016. <>.

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