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Human spongiosa mesenchymal stem cells fail to generate cardiomyocytes in vitro

Svetlana Mastitskaya and Bernd Denecke*

Author Affiliations

Interdisciplinary Centre for Clinical Research (IZKF) "BIOMAT.", RWTH Aachen University, Aachen, Germany

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Journal of Negative Results in BioMedicine 2009, 8:11  doi:10.1186/1477-5751-8-11

Published: 10 November 2009



Human mesenchymal stem cells (hMSCs) are broadly discussed as a promising cell population amongst others for regenerative therapy of ischemic heart disease and its consequences. Although cardiac-specific differentiation of hMSCs was reported in several in vitro studies, these results were sometimes controversial and not reproducible.


In our study we have analyzed different published protocols of cardiac differentiation of hMSCs and their modifications, including the use of differentiation cocktails, different biomaterial scaffolds, co-culture techniques, and two- and three-dimensional cultures. We also studied whether 5'-azacytidin and trichostatin A treatments in combination with the techniques mentioned above can increase the cardiomyogenic potential of hMSCs. We found that hMSCs failed to generate functionally active cardiomyocytes in vitro, although part of the cells demonstrated increased levels of cardiac-specific gene expression when treated with differentiation factors, chemical substances, or co-cultured with native cardiomyocytes.


The failure of hMSCs to form cardiomyocytes makes doubtful the possibility of their use for mechanical reparation of the heart muscle.