Sharon Wei Ling Lee, Kristina Haase, PhD
Cardiomyocytes are specialized cells that allow for contraction of arguably our most important muscle – our heart. These cells divide and grow during early development; however, those of the adult do not. This lack of accessibility has made it difficult to study these important cells. Differentiation of human stem cells into cardiomyocytes is one solution. With the use of induced-pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs) (cells that were once specific but now transformed into a stem cell) we can now generate large numbers of cardiomyocytes – which we can use for our studies, and potentially for therapeutic repair of damaged heart issue.
Our image demonstrates how cardiomyocytes derived from these stem cells can be used to study cell-cell interactions. Shown here are neo-structures that emerge following a week-long culture of endothelial cells with cardiomyocytes in a 3D gel. Endothelial cells line all our blood vessels and are pervasive throughout our body and particularly in our heart. Studying the interaction of these two cell types is important as they both play significant roles in development and maintenance of this important muscle.