Validation of the cardiosphere method to culture cardiac progenitor cells from myocardial tissue

Darryl R. Davis, Yiqiang Zhang, Rachel R. Smith, Ke Cheng, John Terrovitis, Konstantinos Malliaras, Tao Sheng Li, Anthony White, Raj Makkar, Eduardo Marbán

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

216 Scopus citations


Background: At least four laboratories have shown that endogenous cardiac progenitor cells (CPCs) can be grown directly from adult heart tissue in primary culture, as cardiospheres or their progeny (cardiosphere-derived cells, CDCs). Indeed, CDCs are already being tested in a clinical trial for cardiac regeneration. Nevertheless, the validity of the cardiosphere strategy to generate CPCs has been called into question by reports based on variant methods. In those reports, cardiospheres are argued to be cardiomyogenic only because of retained cardiomyocytes, and stem cell activity has been proposed to reflect hematological contamination. We use a variety of approaches (including genetic lineage tracing) to show that neither artifact is applicable to cardiospheres and CDCs grown using established methods, and we further document the stem cell characteristics (namely, clonogenicity and multilineage potential) of CDCs. Methodology/Principal Findings: CPCs were expanded from human endomyocardial biopsies (n = 160), adult bi-transgenic MerCreMer-Z/EG mice (n = 6), adult C57BL/6 mice (n = 18), adult GFP+ C57BL/6 transgenic mice (n = 3), Yucatan mini pigs (n = 67), adult SCID beige mice (n = 8), and adult Wistar-Kyoto rats (n = 80). Cellular yield was enhanced by collagenase digestion and process standardization; yield was reduced in altered media and in specific animal strains. Heparinization/ retrograde organ perfusion did not alter the ability to generate outgrowth from myocardial sample. The initial outgrowth from myocardial samples was enriched for sub-populations of CPCs (c-Kit+), endothelial cells (CD31+, CD34+), and mesenchymal cells (CD90+). Lineage tracing using MerCreMer-Z/EG transgenic mice revealed that the presence of cardiomyocytes in the cellular outgrowth is not required for the generation of CPCs. Rat CDCs are shown to be clonogenic, and cloned CDCs exhibit spontaneous multineage potential. Conclusions/Significance: This study demonstrates that direct culture and expansion of CPCs from myocardial tissue is simple, straightforward, and reproducible when appropriate techniques are used.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere7195
JournalPLoS One
Issue number9
StatePublished - Sep 25 2009
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Agricultural and Biological Sciences
  • General Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology
  • General Medicine


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