This study describes the isolation and characterisation of adult canine cardiac stem cells, and explores their ability to differentiate into cardiac myocytes. Direct comparisons are also made with available human data. Atrial cardiac explants were taken from dogs post-mortem and cultured to isolate adult stem cells. Cells were able to survive successive passages in serum-free media, were able to form cardiospheres, and under controlled culture conditions were capable of clonal expansion, demonstrating their ability for self-renewal. Characterisation of these cells demonstrated the following marker profile: c-kit, GATA 4 and flk-1 positive; cardiac troponin T and NKx2.5 low. Cardiac lineage directed differentiation was performed based on the published literature. Gene expression studies demonstrated that cardiac directed differentiation was partially achieved, with up-regulation of cardiac troponin T and NKx2.5, and down-regulation of c-kit and endothelial lineage markers. However the cells did not express the ryanodine receptor or β(1)-adrenergic receptors and did not contract spontaneously
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