Wednesday, 14 September 2016 10:27

In vitro disease model: Heart rhythm cells tagged with light sensor Featured

To investigate heart rhythm disturbances in vitro, researchers led by Dr. Daniel Sinnecker from the Technical University of Munich have integrated an optical sensor in heart cells in order to distinguish heart cell types by their electric potential from each other. The heart cells are produced from patients´ induced pluripotent stem cells.

With the heart cells bred from stem cells diseases like cardiac arrhythmia can be investigated in miniature format, but also effects of pharmaceuticals on the heart. Nevertheless, when scientist develop heart cells from stem cells they do not know immediately which cell types of the heart they got in the petri dish, for instance atrial cells, ventricle cells or sine knot cells. However, cardiac arrhythmia are caused by malfunctions in certain areas of the heart. Hence, to differentiate the cell types, researchers must be able to measure the electric activity of the cells. For this purpose they had to use complex micro-electrodes which measure the electric potentials of the cells. Nevertheless, only few cells can be examined.

With the new method fluorescence DNA from deep-sea jellyfishes and a protomer region are integrated in heart cells own DNA enabling the heart cells to produce their own sensor proteins. By stimulation with light of a certain wavelength the heart cells fluoresce, which can be recorded with a camera. With the help of the promoter region the researchers can decide which heart cell type should express the sensor protein and which not. Thus the electric signals of the desired cell type can be investigated separately.

Another advantage is that hundreds or even thousands of cells can be investigated per day. With the new procedure researchers are able to test pharmaceuticals on cardiac toxicity in a large scale.  

Z. Chen, W. Xian, M. Bellin, T. Dorn, Q. Tian, A. Goedel, L. Dreizehnter, C. M. Schneider, D. Ward-van Oostwaard, J. King Man Ng, R. Hinkel, L. S. Pane, C. L. Mummery, P. Lipp, A. Moretti, K.-L. Laugwitz, D. Sinnecker (2016): "Subtype-specific promoter-driven action potential imaging for precise disease modelling and drug testing in hiPSC-derived cardiomyocytes"; Eur Heart J.

Source: WT.mc_id=ca0264