Concise review: Growing hearts in the right place: On the design of biomimetic materials for cardiac stem cell differentiation

Yohan Farouz, Yong Chen, André Terzic, Philippe Menasché

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

19 Scopus citations


Tissue engineering aims at recapitulating permissive conditions that enable cells to collaborate and form functional tissues. Applications range from human tissue modeling for diagnostic purposes to therapeutic solutions in regenerative medicine and surgery. Across this spectrum, human stem cells are the active ingredient, expandable virtually indefinitely and with the propensity to generate new tissue. Engaging lineage-specific differentiation requires a precise concerto of key spatial and temporal factors, such as soluble molecules and growth factors, but also physical and mechanical stimuli. These stimuli compete to modulate distinct developmental signaling pathways and ultimately affect the differentiation efficiency. The heart is a chemo-mechano-electrical biological system that behaves as both a sensor and an actuator. It can transduce electrical inputs to generate mechanical contraction and electrical wave propagation. Such a complex organ arises from multipart developmental events that interact with one another to self-regulate. Here, we overview the main events of heart development and the role of mechanical forces in modifying the microenvironment of the progenitor cells. We analyze the cascades regulating cardiac gene activation to illustrate how mechanotransduction is already involved in the most popular protocols for stem cell differentiation (SCD) into cardiomyocytes. We then review how forces are transmitted to embryonic stem cells by cell-substrate or cell-cell communications, and how biomaterials can be designed to mimic these interactions and help reproduce key features of the developmental milieu. Putting this back in a clinical perspective, many challenges needs to be overcome before biomaterials-based SCD protocols can be scaled up and marketed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1021-1035
Number of pages15
JournalStem Cells
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 1 2015


  • Biomaterials and tissue engineering
  • Cardiac development
  • Mechanotransduction
  • Microfabrication
  • Stem cells

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Molecular Medicine
  • Developmental Biology
  • Cell Biology


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