Optogenetic Control of Engrafted Human Induced Pluripotent Stem Cell-Derived Cardiomyocytes in Live Mice: A Proof-of-Concept Study

Jyotsna Joshi, Bing Xu, Michael Rubart, Yun Chang, Xiaoping Bao, Hari P. Chaliki, Luis R. Scott, Wuqiang Zhu

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: Cellular transplantation has emerged as promising approach for treating cardiac diseases. However, a poor engraftment rate limits our understanding on how trans-planted cardiomyocytes contribute to cardiac function in the recipient’s heart. Methods: The CRISPR/Cas9 technique was employed for stable and constitutive gene expression in human-induced pluripotent stem-cell-derived cardiomyocytes (hiPSC-CMs). Myocardial infarction was induced in adult immunodeficient mice, followed by intramyocardial injection of hiPSC-CMs ex-pressing either CCND2/channelrhodopsin 2 (hiPSC-CCND2OE/ChR2OECMs) or CCND2/luciferase (hiPSC-CCND2OE/LuciOECMs). Six months later, hemodynamics and intramural electrocardiogram were recorded upon blue light illuminations in anesthetized, open-chest mice. Results: Blue light resets automaticity of spontaneously beating hiPSC-CCND2OE/ChR2OECMs in culture, but not that of hiPSC-CCND2OE/LuciOECMs. Response to blue light was also observed in mice carrying large (>106 cells) intracardiac grafts of hiPSC-CCND2OE/ChR2OECM but not in mice carrying hiPSC-CCND2OE/LuciOECMs. The former exhibited single premature ventricular contractions upon light illumination or ventricular quadrigeminy upon second-long illuminations. At the onset of premature ventricular contractions, maximal systolic ventricular pressure decreased while ventricular volume rose concomitantly. Light-induced changes reversed upon resumption of sinus rhythm. Conclusions: We established an in vivo model for optogenetic-based modulation of the excitability of donor car-diomyocytes in a functional, reversible, and localized manner. This approach holds unique value for studying electromechanical coupling and molecular interactions between donor cardiomyocytes and recipient hearts in live animals.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number951
Issue number6
StatePublished - Mar 1 2022


  • Cardiomyocytes
  • Cell therapy
  • Heart failure
  • Optogenetics
  • Stem cells

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)


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