Adult human cardiac mesenchymal progenitor cells (hCmPC) are multipotent resident populations involved in cardiac homeostasis and heart repair. Even if the mechanisms have not yet been fully elucidated, the stem cell differentiation is guided by the mitochondrial metabolism; however, mitochondrial approaches to identify hCmPC with enhanced stemness and/or differentiation capability for cellular therapy are not established. Here we demonstrated that hCmPCs sorted for low and high mitochondrial membrane potential (using a lipophilic cationic dye tetramethylrhodamine methyl ester, TMRM), presented differences in energy metabolism from preferential glycolysis to oxidative rates. TMRM-high cells are highly efficient in terms of oxygen consumption rate, basal and maximal respiration, and spare respiratory capacity compared to TMRM-low cells. TMRM-high cells showed characteristics of pre-committed cells and were associated with higher in vitro differentiation capacity through endothelial, cardiac-like, and, to a lesser extent, adipogenic and chondro/osteogenic cell lineage, when compared with TMRM-low cells. Conversely, TMRM-low showed higher self-renewal potential. To conclude, we identified two hCmPC populations with different metabolic profile, stemness maturity, and differentiation potential. Our findings suggest that metabolic sorting can isolate cells with higher regenerative capacity and/or long-term survival. This metabolism-based strategy to select cells may be broadly applicable to therapies.
Gambini E, Martinelli I, Stadiotti I, Vinci MC, Scopece A, Eramo L, Sommariva E, Resta J, Benaouadi S, Cogliati E, Paolin A, Parini A, Pompilio G, Savagner F. Differences in Mitochondrial Membrane Potential Identify Distinct Populations of Human Cardiac Mesenchymal Progenitor Cells. Int J Mol Sci 2020 Oct 10;21(20):E7467. doi: 10.3390/ijms21207467.