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Stem Cells International
Volume 2011, Article ID 383709, 12 pages
http://dx.doi.org/10.4061/2011/383709
Review Article

Cardiac Differentiation of Pluripotent Stem Cells

1Regea - Institute for Regenerative Medicine, University of Tampere, Tampere University Hospital, 33520 Tampere, Finland
2Heart Center, Tampere University Hospital, 33520 Tampere, Finland

Received 16 November 2010; Revised 1 February 2011; Accepted 8 February 2011

Academic Editor: Steve Oh

Copyright © 2011 Kristiina Rajala et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

Abstract

The ability of human pluripotent stem cells to differentiate towards the cardiac lineage has attracted significant interest, initially with a strong focus on regenerative medicine. The ultimate goal to repair the heart by cardiomyocyte replacement has, however, proven challenging. Human cardiac differentiation has been difficult to control, but methods are improving, and the process, to a certain extent, can be manipulated and directed. The stem cell-derived cardiomyocytes described to date exhibit rather immature functional and structural characteristics compared to adult cardiomyocytes. Thus, a future challenge will be to develop strategies to reach a higher degree of cardiomyocyte maturation in vitro, to isolate cardiomyocytes from the heterogeneous pool of differentiating cells, as well as to guide the differentiation into the desired subtype, that is, ventricular, atrial, and pacemaker cells. In this paper, we will discuss the strategies for the generation of cardiomyocytes from pluripotent stem cells and their characteristics, as well as highlight some applications for the cells.