Garbern JC, Lee RT. 2021. Mitochondria and metabolic transitions in cardiomyocytes: lessons from development for stem cell-derived cardiomyocytes. Stem cell research & therapy. 12(1):177. Pubmed: 33712058 DOI:10.1186/s13287-021-02252-6


Current methods to differentiate cardiomyocytes from human pluripotent stem cells (PSCs) inadequately recapitulate complete development and result in PSC-derived cardiomyocytes (PSC-CMs) with an immature or fetal-like phenotype. Embryonic and fetal development are highly dynamic periods during which the developing embryo or fetus is exposed to changing nutrient, oxygen, and hormone levels until birth. It is becoming increasingly apparent that these metabolic changes initiate developmental processes to mature cardiomyocytes. Mitochondria are central to these changes, responding to these metabolic changes and transitioning from small, fragmented mitochondria to large organelles capable of producing enough ATP to support the contractile function of the heart. These changes in mitochondria may not simply be a response to cardiomyocyte maturation; the metabolic signals that occur throughout development may actually be central to the maturation process in cardiomyocytes. Here, we review methods to enhance maturation of PSC-CMs and highlight evidence from development indicating the key roles that mitochondria play during cardiomyocyte maturation. We evaluate metabolic transitions that occur during development and how these affect molecular nutrient sensors, discuss how regulation of nutrient sensing pathways affect mitochondrial dynamics and function, and explore how changes in mitochondrial function can affect metabolite production, the cell cycle, and epigenetics to influence maturation of cardiomyocytes.

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Rich Lee seeks to understand heart failure and metabolic diseases that accompany human aging, and translate that understanding into therapies. Lee is an active clinician, regularly treating patients at Brigham and Women’s Hospital.

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