Myocardial infarction is a serious clinical disease with high mortality and poor prognosis. Cardiomyocytes (CMs) have limited regeneration abilities after ischemic injury. Their growth and differentiation can be enhanced by contact co-culture with stem cells.
The aim was to study the contact co-culture of Dil-labeled bone marrow mesenchymal stem cells (BMSCs) and CMs for inducing differentiation of CMs from stem cells for treating myocardial infarction.
After contact co-culture, the differentiation of BMSCs into CMs was analyzed qualitatively by detecting myocardial markers (cardiac troponin T and α-smooth muscle actin) using immunofluorescence and quantitatively using flow cytometry. To examine the mechanism, possible gap junctions between BMSCs and CMs were analyzed by detecting gap junction protein connexin 43 (C×43) expression in BMSCs using immunofluorescence. The functionality of gap junctions was analyzed using dye transfer experiments.
The results revealed that BMSCs in contact with CMs exhibited myocardial markers and a significant increase in differentiation rate (P < 0.05); they also proved the existence and function of gap junctions between BMSCs and CMs.
It was shown that contact co-culture can induce Dil-labeled BMSCs to differentiate into CM-like cells and examined the principle of gap junction-mediated signaling pathways involved in inducing stem cells to differentiate into cardiomyocytes.