Valproic acid stimulates myogenesis in pluripotent stem cell-derived mesodermal progenitors in a NOTCH-dependent manner

Natacha Breuls, Nefele Giarratana, Laura Yedigaryan, Gabriel Miró Garrido, Paolo Carai, Stephane Heymans, Adrian Ranga, Christophe Deroose, Maurilio Sampaolesi

Cell Death Dis. 2021 Jul 5;12(7):677


Muscular dystrophies are debilitating neuromuscular disorders for which no cure exists. As this disorder affects both cardiac and skeletal muscle, patients would benefit from a cellular therapy that can simultaneously regenerate both tissues. The current protocol to derive bipotent mesodermal progenitors which can differentiate into cardiac and skeletal muscle relies on the spontaneous formation of embryoid bodies, thereby hampering further clinical translation. Additionally, as skeletal muscle is the largest organ in the human body, a high myogenic potential is necessary for successful regeneration. Here, we have optimized a protocol to generate chemically defined human induced pluripotent stem cell-derived mesodermal progenitors (cdMiPs). We demonstrate that these cells contribute to myotube formation and differentiate into cardiomyocytes, both in vitro and in vivo. Furthermore, the addition of valproic acid, a clinically approved small molecule, increases the potential of the cdMiPs to contribute to myotube formation that can be prevented by NOTCH signaling inhibitors. Moreover, valproic acid pre-treated cdMiPs injected in dystrophic muscles increase physical strength and ameliorate the functional performances of transplanted mice. Taken together, these results constitute a novel approach to generate mesodermal progenitors with enhanced myogenic potential using clinically approved reagents.