In the past years, cardiovascular progenitor cells have been isolated from the human heart and characterized.
Up to date, no studies have been reported in which the developmental potential of foetal and adult cardiovascular progenitors was tested simultaneously.
However, intrinsic differences will likely affect interpretations regarding progenitor cell potential and application for regenerative medicine.
Scientists report a direct comparison between human foetal and adult heart-derived cardiomyocyte progenitor cells (CMPCs).
They show that foetal and adult CMPCs have distinct preferences to differentiate into mesodermal lineages.
Under pro-angiogenic conditions, foetal CMPCs form more endothelial but less smooth muscle cells than adult CMPCs.
Foetal CMPCs can also develop towards adipocytes, whereas neither foetal nor adult CMPCs show significant osteogenic differentiation.
Interestingly, although both cell types differentiate into heart muscle cells, adult CMPCs give rise to electrophysiologically more mature cardiomyocytes than foetal CMPCs.
Taken together, foetal CMPCs are suitable for molecular cell biology and developmental studies.
The potential of adult CMPCs to form mature cardiomyocytes and smooth muscle cells may be essential for cardiac repair after transplantation into the injured heart.