Cited 3 times since 2015 (0.6 per year) source: Scopus Cardiovascular research, Volume 107, Issue 4, 03 July 2015, Pages 601-612 Forced fusion of human ventricular scar cells with cardiomyocytes suppresses arrhythmogenicity in a co-culture model. Engels MC, Askar SF, Jangsangthong W, Bingen BO, Feola I, Liu J, Majumder R, Versteegh MI, Braun J, Klautz RJ, Ypey DL, De Vries AA, Pijnappels DA

Fibrosis increases arrhythmogenicity in myocardial tissue by causing structural and functional disruptions in the cardiac syncytium. Forced fusion of fibroblastic cells with adjacent cardiomyocytes may theoretically resolve these disruptions. Therefore, the electrophysiological effects of such electrical and structural integration of fibroblastic cells into a cardiac syncytium were studied.Human ventricular scar cells (hVSCs) were transduced with lentiviral vectors encoding enhanced green fluorescent protein alone (eGFP↑-hVSCs) or together with the fusogenic vesicular stomatitis virus G protein (VSV-G/eGFP↑-hVSCs) and subsequently co-cultured (1

4 ratio) with neonatal rat ventricular cardiomyocytes (NRVMs) in confluent monolayers yielding eGFP↑- and VSV-G/eGFP↑-co-cultures, respectively. Cellular fusion was induced by brief exposure to pH = 6.0 medium. Optical mapping experiments showed eGFP↑-co-cultures to be highly arrhythmogenic [43.3% early afterdepolarization (EAD) incidence vs. 7.7% in control NRVM cultures, P < 0.0001], with heterogeneous prolongation of action potential (AP) duration (APD). Fused VSV-G/eGFP↑-co-cultures displayed markedly lower EAD incidence (4.6%, P < 0.001) than unfused co-cultures, associated with decreases in APD, APD dispersion, and decay time of cytosolic Ca(2+) waves. Heterokaryons strongly expressed connexin43 (Cx43). Also, maximum diastolic potential in co-cultures was more negative after fusion, while heterokaryons exhibited diverse mixed NRVM/hVSC whole-cell current profiles, but consistently showed increased outward Kv currents compared with NRVMs or hVSCs. Inhibition of Kv channels by tetraethylammonium chloride abrogated the anti-arrhythmic effects of fusion in VSV-G/eGFP↑-co-cultures raising EAD incidence from 7.9 to 34.2% (P < 0.001).Forced fusion of cultured hVSCs with NRVMs yields electrically functional heterokaryons and reduces arrhythmogenicity by preventing EADs, which is, at least partly, attributable to increased repolarization force.

Keywords: Cell culture, Cardiomyocytes, Early Afterdepolarizations, Heterocellular Fusion, Human Ventricular Scar Cells

Cardiovasc Res. 2015 Jul;107(4):601-612