Tuesday, 16 August 2022 14:29

Congenital heart research in vitro Featured

A team of researchers from Michigan State University (MSU) has presented a human pluripotent stem cell-based method for producing developmentally relevant human heart organoids that can be used for gestational diabetes research.

Congenital heart defects are among the most common birth defects in humans. The causative factor that may contribute is maternal gestational diabetes during the first trimester of pregnancy. Treatment during pregnancy is not easy because of the sensitivity of the developing embryo to glucose fluctuations and possible health problems for both mother and child may occur. Despite studies in animal "models" and cell cultures, the mechanisms leading to developmental cell process changes due to maternal diabetes are unclear. Because of species differences, the relevance of results from animal models is questionable. Direct studies in human embryos are also not possible, resulting in a need for physiologically relevant models.

First, the researchers, led by Aitor Aguirre of MSU's College of Engineering, developed embryoid bodies from human pluripotent stem cells and differentiated them into functional cardiac organoids with all the necessary cell types, which were exposed to a diabetic situation with high concentrations of insulin and glucose.

The scientists observed an enlarged myocardial area and disorganized and scattered epicardial tissue in the diabetic organoids compared to non-diabetic organoids, indicating hypertrophy as well as morphological abnormalities in cardiac development under diabetic conditions.

Original publication:
Lewis-Israeli YR, Abdelhamid M, Olomu I, Aguirre A. Modeling the Effects of Maternal Diabetes on the Developing Human Heart Using Pluripotent Stem Cell-Derived Heart Organoids. Curr Protoc. 2022 Jun;2(6):e461. doi: 10.1002/cpz1.461. PMID: 35723517; PMCID: PMC9219413.

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