The generation of mature and vascularized human pluripotent stem cell-derived cardiac organoids (hPSC-COs) is necessary to ensure the validity of drug screening and disease modeling. This study investigates the effects of cellular aggregate (CA) stemness and self-organization on the generation of mature and vascularized hPSC-COs and elucidates the mechanisms underlying cardiac organoid (CO) maturation and vascularization. COs derived from 2-day-old CAs with high stemness (H-COs) and COs derived from 5-day-old CAs with low stemness (L-COs) were generated in a self-organized microenvironment via Wnt signaling induction. This study finds that H-COs exhibit ventricular, structural, metabolic, and functional cardiomyocyte maturation and vessel networks consisting of endothelial cells, smooth muscle cells, pericytes, and basement membranes compared to L-COs. Transcriptional profiling shows the upregulation of genes associated with cardiac maturation and vessel formation in H-COs compared with the genes in L-COs. Through experiments with LIMK inhibitors, the activation of ROCK-LIMK-pCofilin via ECM–integrin interactions leads to cardiomyocyte maturation and vessel formation in H-COs. Furthermore, the LIMK/Cofilin signaling pathway induces TGFβ/NODAL and PDGF pathway activation for the maturation and vascularization of H-COs. The study demonstrates for the first time that LIMK/Cofilin axis activation plays an important role in the generation of mature and vascularized COs.
Bibliographical noteFunding Information:
This research was funded by the Bio & Medical Technology Development Program of the National Research Foundation (NRF) funded by the Korean government (Grant NO. 2022M3A9H1014158).
© 2023 by the authors.
- LIMK/Cofilin signaling
- cardiac organoids
- mature cardiac organoids
- vascularized cardiac organoids
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)