(Re-)programming of subtype specific cardiomyocytes
Adult cardiomyocytes (CMs) possess a highly restricted intrinsic regenerative potential — a major barrier to the effective treatment of a range of chronic degenerative cardiac disorders characterized by cellular loss and/or irreversible dysfunction and which underlies the majority of deaths in developed countries. Both stem cell programming and direct cell reprogramming hold promise as novel, potentially curative approaches to address this therapeutic challenge. The advent of induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs) has introduced a second pluripotent stem cell source besides embryonic stem cells (ESCs), enabling even autologous cardiomyocyte production. In addition, the recent achievement of directly reprogramming somatic cells into cardiomyocytes is likely to become of great importance. In either case, different clinical scenarios will require the generation of highly pure, specific cardiac cellular-subtypes. In this review, we discuss these themes as related to the cardiovascular stem cell and programming field, including a focus on the emergent topic of pacemaker cell generation for the development of biological pacemakers and in vitro drug testing.