The Effects of Calcium Channel Blockade and Atrial Natriuretic Peptide Signalling on Proliferation and Differentiation of Cardiac Progenitor Cells
Hotchkiss, Adam, Gordon
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Cardiac progenitor cells (CPCs) are abundant in the embryonic heart and have hallmark features which include a rapid rate of cell division and the ability to differentiate into mature heart muscle cells (cardiomyocytes). Based on these features, CPCs are considered an attractive candidate cell type for transplantation therapies which aim to replenish the diseased heart muscle tissue (myocardium) with new muscle forming cells. A better understanding of how pharmacological drugs and endogenous hormones/signalling molecules modulate the balance between proliferation and differentiation of CPCs could be used to develop more effective cell based therapies for myocardial repair. Furthermore, this information could provide valuable new insight into molecular mechanisms regulating normal cardiogenesis during the embryonic period. The specific aims of the present study were to characterize the effects of the Ca2+ channel blocking drug nifedipine and the endogenous hormone/paracrine factor atrial natriuretic peptide (ANP) on CPC proliferation and differentiation. Results showed that primary cultured CPCs, isolated from the ventricles of embryonic day (E) 11.5 mouse embryos, underwent a reduction in cell cycle activity following exposure to nifedipine. Furthermore, systemic administration of nifedipine to adult mice receiving transplanted E11.5 ventricular cells (containing CPCs) was associated with smaller graft sizes compared to control animals that did not receive the drug. Results from the present study also demonstrated that ANP receptor mediated signalling systems are biologically active in E11.5 ventricular cells and have an antiproliferative effect on cultured E11.5 CPCs. Moreover, preliminary data provided evidence that genetic ablation of the ANP high affinity receptor (NPRA) may be associated with impaired development of the ventricular cardiac conduction system. Collectively, work from this thesis provides evidence that interactions between transplanted cells and pharmacological drugs could have a significant impact on the effectiveness of cell based therapies and that ANP signalling systems may play a critical role in cardiac ontogeny by regulating the balance between CPC proliferation and differentiation.