Modeling conduction in host-graft interactions between stem cell grafts and cardiomyocytes.

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Cell therapy has recently made great strides towards aiding heart failure. However, while transplanted cells may electromechanically integrate into host tissue, there may not be a uniform propagation of a depolarization wave between the heterogeneous tissue boundaries. A model using microelectrode array technology that maps the electrical interactions between host and graft tissues in co-culture is presented and sheds light on the effects of having a mismatch of conduction properties at the boundary. Skeletal myoblasts co-cultured with cardiomyocytes demonstrated that conduction velocity significantly decreases at the boundary despite electromechanical coupling. In an attempt to improve the uniformity of conduction with host cells, differentiating human embryonic stem cells (hESC) were used in co-culture. Over the course of four to seven days, synchronous electrical activity was observed at the hESC boundary, implying differentiation and integration. Activity did not extend far past the boundary, and conduction velocity was significantly greater than that of the host tissue, implying the need for other external measures to properly match the conduction properties between host and graft tissue.