Role of epicardial mesothelial cells in the modification of phenotype and function of adult rat ventricular myocytes in primary coculture.
Adult rat ventricular myocytes undergo a well-documented sequence of phenotypic changes during adaptation to primary culture. However, we observed that coculture of myocytes with a specific subset of nonmyocyte cardiac cells could slow and even reverse the process of adaptation. These nonmyocyte cells were isolated and identified by immunohistochemical and ultrastructural criteria as being of epicardial mesothelial origin. When added to long-term primary cultures of adult ventricular myocytes, epicardial mesothelial cells appeared to induce myofibrillar arrays that were more organized than those seen in noncocultured myocytes; these changes that occurred were concurrent with the appearance of large amplitude contractions and multicellular synchronous beating that was facilitated by gap junctions between myocytes and epicardial mesothelial cells. The changes in morphology and function were accompanied by a marked increase in beta-myosin heavy chain isoform transcription in cocultured myocytes, a return to the ratio of cardiac to skeletal alpha-actin expected in adult rat myocardium, and a much reduced expression of smooth muscle alpha-actin. These changes in myocyte phenotype and function appeared to require epicardial cell-myocyte contact, or close apposition, because media conditioned by epicardial mesothelial cells alone or in coculture had no effect. Thus, these rapid and reversible changes in myocyte ultrastructure, function, and gene expression may provide a useful in vitro model with which to study the mechanism responsible for regulating the plasticity of ventricular myocyte phenotype and the role of specific cell-cell interactions.
- Copyright © 1992 by American Heart Association