Studying arrhythmogenic right ventricular dysplasia with patient-specific iPSCs.
Cellular reprogramming of somatic cells to patient-specific induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs) enables in vitro modelling of human genetic disorders for pathogenic investigations and therapeutic screens. However, using iPSC-derived cardiomyocytes (iPSC-CMs) to model an adult-onset heart disease remains challenging owing to the uncertainty regarding the ability of relatively immature iPSC-CMs to fully recapitulate adult disease phenotypes. Arrhythmogenic right ventricular dysplasia/cardiomyopathy (ARVD/C) is an inherited heart disease characterized by pathological fatty infiltration and cardiomyocyte loss predominantly in the right ventricle, which is associated with life-threatening ventricular arrhythmias. Over 50% of affected individuals have desmosome gene mutations, most commonly in PKP2, encoding plakophilin-2 (ref. 9). The median age at presentation of ARVD/C is 26 years. We used previously published methods to generate iPSC lines from fibroblasts of two patients with ARVD/C and PKP2 mutations. Mutant PKP2 iPSC-CMs demonstrate abnormal plakoglobin nuclear translocation and decreased beta-catenin activity in cardiogenic conditions; yet, these abnormal features are insufficient to reproduce the pathological phenotypes of ARVD/C in standard cardiogenic conditions. Here we show that induction of adult-like metabolic energetics from an embryonic/glycolytic state and abnormal peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor gamma (PPAR-gamma) activation underlie the pathogenesis of ARVD/C. By co-activating normal PPAR-alpha-dependent metabolism and abnormal PPAR-gamma pathway in beating embryoid bodies (EBs) with defined media, we established an efficient ARVD/C in vitro model within 2 months. This model manifests exaggerated lipogenesis and apoptosis in mutant PKP2 iPSC-CMs. iPSC-CMs with a homozygous PKP2 mutation also had calcium-handling deficits. Our study is the first to demonstrate that induction of adult-like metabolism has a critical role in establishing an adult-onset disease model using patient-specific iPSCs. Using this model, we revealed crucial pathogenic insights that metabolic derangement in adult-like metabolic milieu underlies ARVD/C pathologies, enabling us to propose novel disease-modifying therapeutic strategies.