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Stem Cells International
Volume 2016, Article ID 8917380, 11 pages
Research Article

Electrically Induced Calcium Handling in Cardiac Progenitor Cells

1Wallace H. Coulter Department of Biomedical Engineering, Emory University School of Medicine, Atlanta, GA, USA
2Division of Pediatric Cardiology, Department of Pediatrics, Emory University School of Medicine, Atlanta, GA, USA
3Children’s Heart Research and Outcomes (HeRO) Center, Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta and Emory University, Atlanta, GA, USA

Received 18 June 2016; Accepted 25 September 2016

Academic Editor: Leonard M. Eisenberg

Copyright © 2016 Joshua T. Maxwell 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.


For nearly a century, the heart was viewed as a terminally differentiated organ until the discovery of a resident population of cardiac stem cells known as cardiac progenitor cells (CPCs). It has been shown that the regenerative capacity of CPCs can be enhanced by ex vivo modification. Preconditioning CPCs could provide drastic improvements in cardiac structure and function; however, a systematic approach to determining a mechanistic basis for these modifications founded on the physiology of CPCs is lacking. We have identified a novel property of CPCs to respond to electrical stimulation by initiating intracellular Ca2+ oscillations. We used confocal microscopy and intracellular calcium imaging to determine the spatiotemporal properties of the Ca2+ signal and the key proteins involved in this process using pharmacological inhibition and confocal Ca2+ imaging. Our results provide valuable insights into mechanisms to enhance the therapeutic potential in stem cells and further our understanding of human CPC physiology.