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Myocardial infarction is the most prevalent of cardiovascular diseases and pharmacological interventions do not lead to restoration of the lost cardiomyocytes. Despite extensive stem cell therapy studies, clinical trials using cardiac progenitor cells have shown moderate results. Furthermore, differentiation of endogenous progenitors to mature cardiomyocytes is rarely reported. A metabolic switch from glucose to fatty acid oxidation occurs during cardiac development and cardiomyocyte maturation, however in vitro differentiation protocols do not consider the lack of fatty acids in cell culture media. The aim of this study was to assess the effect of this metabolic switch on control and differentiated adult cardiac progenitors, by fatty acid supplementation. Addition of oleic acid stimulated the peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor alpha pathway and led to maturation of the cardiac progenitors, both before and after transforming growth factor-beta 1 differentiation. Addition of oleic acid following differentiation increased expression of myosin heavy chain 7 and connexin 43. Also, total glycolytic metabolism increased, as did mitochondrial membrane potential and glucose and fatty acid transporter expression. This work provides new insights into the importance of fatty acids, and of peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor alpha, in cardiac progenitor differentiation. Harnessing the oxidative metabolic switch induced maturation of differentiated endogenous stem cells. (200 words).

Original publication




Journal article


Stem Cell Res

Publication Date





Cardiac stem cells, Differentiation, Fatty acid oxidation, Metabolism, Oleic acid OA, PPARα