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Cardiosphere-derived cells (CDCs), which can be isolated from heart explants, are a promising candidate cell source for infarcted myocardium regeneration. However, current protocols used to expand CDCs require at least 1 month in vitro to obtain sufficient cells for transplantation. We report that CDC culture can be optimized by preconditioning the cells under hypoxia (2% oxygen), which may reflect the physiological oxygen level of the stem cell niche. Under hypoxia, the CDC proliferation rate increased by 1.4-fold, generating 6 × 10(6) CDCs with higher expression of cardiac stem cell and pluripotency gene markers compared to normoxia. Furthermore, telomerase (TERT), cytokines/ligands involved in stem cell trafficking (SDF/CXCR-4), erythropoiesis (EPO), and angiogenesis (VEGF) were increased under hypoxia. Hypoxic preconditioning was mimicked by treatment with two types of hypoxia-inducible factor (HIF) prolyl-4-hydroxylase inhibitors (PHDIs): dimethyloxaloylglycine (DMOG) and 2-(1-chloro-4-hydroxyisoquinoline-3-carboxamido) acetic acid (BIC). Despite the difference in specificity, both PHDIs significantly increased c-Kit expression and activated HIF, EPO, and CXCR-4. Furthermore, treatment with PHDIs for 24 h increased cell proliferation. Notably, all hypoxic and PHDI-preconditioned CDCs had decreased oxygen consumption and increased glycolytic metabolism. In conclusion, cells cultured under hypoxia could have potentially enhanced therapeutic potential, which can be mimicked, in part, by PHDIs.

Original publication




Journal article


Cell Transplant

Publication Date





35 - 53


Animals, Biomarkers, Cell Differentiation, Cell Hypoxia, Cell Proliferation, Female, Gene Expression Regulation, Glucose, Hypoxia-Inducible Factor 1, alpha Subunit, Myocardium, Oxidation-Reduction, Prolyl Hydroxylases, Prolyl-Hydroxylase Inhibitors, RNA, Messenger, Rats, Sprague-Dawley, Spheroids, Cellular, Stem Cells