Pflugers Arch. 2021 Apr 30. doi: 10.1007/s00424-021-02549-8. Online ahead of print.
Human pluripotent stem cells (hPSC) self-renew and represent a potentially unlimited source for the production of cardiomyocytes (CMs) suitable for studies of human cardiac development, drug discovery, cardiotoxicity testing, and disease modelling and for cell-based therapies. However, most cardiac differentiation protocols yield mixed cultures of atrial-, ventricular-, and pacemaker-like cells at various stages of development, as well as non-CMs. The proportions and maturation states of these cell types result from disparities among differentiation protocols and time of cultivation, as well as hPSC reprogramming inconsistencies and genetic background variations. The reproducible use of hPSC-CMs for research and therapy is therefore limited by issues of cell population heterogeneity and functional states of maturation. A validated method that overcomes issues of cell heterogeneity is immunophenotyping coupled with live cell sorting, an approach that relies on accessible surface markers restricted to the desired cell type(s). Here we review current progress in unravelling heterogeneity in hPSC-cardiac cultures and in the identification of surface markers suitable for defining cardiac identity, subtype specificity, and maturation states.