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Anti-Aging Effects of Vitamin C on Human Pluripotent Stem Cell-Derived Cardiomyocytes

Vitamin C is water-soluble, and probably the most famous of all the vitamins. Even before its discovery in 1932, physicians recognised that there must be a compound in citrus fruits preventing scurvy, a disease that killed as many as 2 million sailors between 1500 and 1800. Later researchers discovered that man, other primates and the guinea pig depend on external sources to cover their Vitamin C requirements. Most other animals are able to synthesise Vitamin C from glucose and galactose in their body. The most prominent role of Vitamin C is its immune stimulating effect, which is important for the defence against infections such as common colds. It also acts as an inhibitor of histamine, a compound that is released during allergic reactions. As a powerful antioxidant it can neutralise harmful free radicals and aids in neutralising pollutants and toxins.

Kim YY, Ku SY, Huh Y, Liu HC, Kim SH, Choi YM, Moon SY. Anti-aging effects of Vitamin C on human pluripotent stem cell-derived cardiomyocytes. 1. Age (Dordr). 2012 Jul 28. [Epub ahead of print]

Human pluripotent stem cells (hPSCs) have arisen as a source of cells for biomedical research due to their developmental potential. Stem cells possess the promise of providing clinicians with novel treatments for disease as well as allowing researchers to generate human-specific cellular metabolism models. Aging is a natural process of living organisms, yet aging in human heart cells is difficult to study due to the ethical considerations regarding human experimentation as well as a current lack of alternative experimental models. hPSC-derived cardiomyocytes (CMs) bear a resemblance to human cardiac cells and thus hPSC-derived CMs are considered to be a viable alternative model to study human heart cell aging. In this study, we used hPSC-derived CMs as an in vitro aging model. We generated cardiomyocytes from hPSCs and demonstrated the process of aging in both human embryonic stem cell (hESC)- and induced pluripotent stem cell (hiPSC)-derived CMs. Aging in hESC-derived CMs correlated with reduced membrane potential in mitochondria, the accumulation of lipofuscin, a slower beating pattern, and the downregulation of human telomerase RNA (hTR) and cell cycle regulating genes. Interestingly, the expression of hTR in hiPSC-derived CMs was not significantly downregulated, unlike in hESC-derived CMs. In order to delay aging, Vitamin C was added to the cultured CMs. When cells were treated with 100??M of Vitamin C for 48?h, anti-aging effects, specifically on the expression of telomere-related genes and their functionality in aging cells, were observed. Taken together, these results suggest that hPSC-derived CMs can be used as a unique human cardiomyocyte aging model in vitro and that Vitamin C shows anti-aging effects in this model.