Human adult skeletal muscle stem cells differentiate into cardiomyocyte phenotype in vitro

Gloria Invernici, Silvia Cristini, Paolo Madeddu, Stefano Brock, Frank Spillmann, Pia Bernasconi, Cristina Cappelletti, Chiara Calatozzolo, Umberto Fascio, Gianluigi Bisleri, Claudio Muneretto, Giulio Alessandri, Eugenio A Parati

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (Academic Journal)peer-review

19 Citations (Scopus)


Cell transplantation to repair or regenerate injured myocardium is a new frontier in the treatment of cardiovascular disease. Most studies on stem cell transplantation therapy in both experimental heart infarct and in phase-I human clinical trials have focused on the use of undifferentiated stem cells. Based on our previous observations demonstrating the presence of multipotent progenitor cells in human adult skeletal muscle, in this study we investigated the capacity of these progenitors to differentiate into cardiomyocytes. Here we show an efficient protocol for the cardiomyogenic differentiation of human adult skeletal muscle stem cells in vitro. We found that treatment with Retinoic Acid directed cardiomyogenic differentiation of skeletal muscle stem cells in vitro. After Retinoic Acid treatment, cells expressed cardiomyocyte markers and acquired spontaneous contraction. Functional assays exhibited cardiac-like response to increased extracellular calcium. When cocultured with mouse cardiomyocytes, Retinoic Acid-treated skeletal muscle stem cells expressed connexin43 and when transplanted into ischemic heart were detectable even 5 weeks after injection. Based on these results, we can conclude that human adult skeletal muscle stem cells, if opportunely treated, can transdifferentiate into cells of cardiac lineage and once injected into infarcted heart can integrate, survive in cardiac tissue and improve the cardiac function.

Translated title of the contributionHuman adult skeletal muscle stem cells differentiate into cardiomyocyte phenotype in vitro
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)366 - 376
Number of pages11
JournalExperimental Cell Research
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 15 Jan 2008


  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Animals
  • Cell Differentiation
  • Humans
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred Strains
  • Middle Aged
  • Muscle, Skeletal
  • Myocardial Ischemia
  • Myocytes, Cardiac
  • Phenotype
  • Platelet-Derived Growth Factor
  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins c-sis
  • Stem Cells
  • Tretinoin


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