Professional Education


  • Bachelor of Engineering, Huazhong University Of Science & Technology (2007)
  • Bachelor of Science, Wuhan University, Biological Science (2007)
  • Master of Science, Fudan University, Macromolecular Science (2010)
  • Doctor of Philosophy, Clemson University (2015)

Stanford Advisors


Current Research and Scholarly Interests


Cardiac tissue engineering with iPSC-CM

All Publications


  • An in Vivo miRNA Delivery System for Restoring Infarcted Myocardium. ACS nano Yang, H., Qin, X., Wang, H., Zhao, X., Liu, Y., Wo, H. T., Liu, C., Nishiga, M., Chen, H., Ge, J., Sayed, N., Abilez, O. J., Ding, D., Heilshorn, S. C., Li, K. 2019

    Abstract

    A major challenge in myocardial infarction (MI)-related heart failure treatment using microRNA is the efficient and sustainable delivery of miRNAs into myocardium to achieve functional improvement through stimulation of intrinsic myocardial restoration. In this study, we established an in vivo delivery system using polymeric nanoparticles to carry miRNA (miNPs) for localized delivery within a shear-thinning injectable hydrogel. The miNPs triggered proliferation of human embryonic stem cell-derived cardiomyocytes and endothelial cells (hESC-CMs and hESC-ECs) and promoted angiogenesis in hypoxic conditions, showing significantly lower cytotoxicity than Lipofectamine. Furthermore, one injected dose of hydrogel/miNP in MI rats demonstrated significantly improved cardiac functions: increased ejection fraction from 45% to 64%, reduced scar size from 20% to 10%, and doubled capillary density in the border zone compared to the control group at 4 weeks. As such, our results indicate that this injectable hydrogel/miNP composite can deliver miRNA to restore injured myocardium efficiently and safely.

    View details for DOI 10.1021/acsnano.9b03343

    View details for PubMedID 31149806

  • A Premature Termination Codon Mutation in MYBPC3 Causes Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy via Chronic Activation of Nonsense-Mediated Decay. Circulation Seeger, T., Shrestha, R., Lam, C. K., Chen, C., McKeithan, W. L., Lau, E., Wnorowski, A., McMullen, G., Greenhaw, M., Lee, J., Oikonomopoulos, A., Lee, S., Yang, H., Mercola, M., Wheeler, M., Ashley, E. A., Yang, F., Karakikes, I., Wu, J. C. 2018

    Abstract

    BACKGROUND: Hypertrophic cardiomyopathy (HCM) is frequently caused by mutations in myosin binding protein C3 ( MYBPC3) resulting in a premature termination codon (PTC). The underlying mechanisms of how PTC mutations in MYBPC3 lead to the onset and progression of HCM are poorly understood. This study's aim was to investigate the molecular mechanisms underlying the pathogenesis of HCM associated with MYBPC3 PTC mutations by utilizing human isogenic induced pluripotent stem cell-derived cardiomyocytes (iPSC-CMs).METHODS: Isogenic iPSC lines were generated from patients harboring MYBPC3 PTC mutations (p.R943x; p.R1073P_Fsx4) using genome editing and then differentiated into cardiomyocytes. Comprehensive phenotypical and transcriptome analyses were performed.RESULTS: We observed aberrant calcium handling properties with prolonged decay kinetics and elevated diastolic calcium levels in HCM iPSC-CMs compared to isogenic controls without structural abnormalities or contractile dysfunction. The mRNA expression levels of MYBPC3 were significantly reduced in mutant iPSC-CMs, but the protein levels were comparable among isogenic iPSC-CMs, suggesting that haploinsufficiency of MYBPC3 does not contribute to the pathogenesis of HCM in vitro. Furthermore, truncated MYBPC3 peptides were not detected. At the molecular level, the nonsense-mediated decay (NMD) pathway was activated, and a set of genes involved in major cardiac signaling pathways was dysregulated in HCM iPSC-CMs, indicating an HCM gene signature in vitro. Specific inhibition of the NMD pathway in mutant iPSC-CMs resulted in reversal of the molecular phenotype and normalization of calcium handling abnormalities.CONCLUSIONS: iPSC-CMs carrying MYBPC3 PTC mutations displayed aberrant calcium signaling and molecular dysregulations in the absence of significant haploinsufficiency of MYBPC3 protein. Here we provided the first evidence of the direct connection between the chronically activated NMD pathway and HCM disease development.

    View details for PubMedID 30586709

  • Progress, obstacles, and limitations in the use of stem cells in organ-on-a-chip models. Advanced drug delivery reviews Wnorowski, A., Yang, H., Wu, J. C. 2018

    Abstract

    In recent years, drug development costs have soared, primarily due to the failure of preclinical animal and cell culture models, which do not directly translate to human physiology. Organ-on-a-chip (OOC) is a burgeoning technology with the potential to revolutionize disease modeling, drug discovery, and toxicology research by strengthening the relevance of culture-based models while reducing costly animal studies. Although OOC models can incorporate a variety of tissue sources, the most robust and relevant OOC models going forward will include stem cells. In this review, we will highlight the benefits of stem cells as a tissue source while considering current limitations to their complete and effective implementation into OOC models.

    View details for PubMedID 29885330

  • Ferumoxytol-based Dual-modality Imaging Probe for Detection of Stem Cell Transplant Rejection. Nanotheranostics Li, K., Chan, C. T., Nejadnik, H., Lenkov, O. D., Wolterman, C., Paulmurugan, R., Yang, H., Gambhir, S. S., Daldrup-Link, H. E. 2018; 2 (4): 306–19

    Abstract

    Purpose: Stem cell transplants are an effective approach to repair large bone defects. However, comprehensive techniques to monitor the fate of transplanted stem cells in vivo are lacking. Such strategies would enable corrective interventions at an early stage and greatly benefit the development of more successful tissue regeneration approaches. In this study, we designed and synthesized a dual-modality imaging probe (Feru-AFC) that can simultaneously localize transplanted stem cells and diagnose immune rejection-induced apoptosis at an early stage in vivo. Methods: We used a customized caspase-3 cleavable peptide-dye conjugate to modify the surface of clinically approved ferumoxytol nanoparticles (NPs) to generate the dual-modality imaging probe with fluorescence "light-up" feature. We labeled both mouse mesenchymal stem cells (mMSCs, matched) and pig mesenchymal stem cells (pMSCs, mismatched) with the probe and transplanted the labeled cells with biocompatible scaffold at the calvarial defects in mice. We then employed intravital microscopy (IVM) and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) to investigate the localization, engraftment, and viability of matched and mismatched stem cells, followed by histological analyses to evaluate the results obtained from in vivo studies. Results: The Feru-AFC NPs showed good cellular uptake efficiency in the presence of lipofectin without cytotoxicity to mMSCs and pMSCs. The fluorescence of Feru-AFC NPs was turned on inside apoptotic cells due to the cleavage of peptide by activated caspase-3 and subsequent release of fluorescence dye molecules. Upon transplantation at the calvarial defects in mice, the intense fluorescence from the cleaved Feru-AFC NPs in apoptotic pMSCs was observed with a concomitant decrease in the overall cell number from days 1 to 6. In contrast, the Feru-AFC NP-treated mMSCs exhibited minimum fluorescence and the cell number also remained similar. Furthermore, in vivo MRI of the Feru-AFC NP-treated mMSC and pMSCs transplants could clearly indicate the localization of matched and mismatched cells, respectively. Conclusions: We successfully developed a dual-modality imaging probe for evaluation of the localization and viability of transplanted stem cells in mouse calvarial defects. Using ferumoxytol NPs as the platform, our Feru-AFC NPs are superparamagnetic and display a fluorescence "light-up" signature upon exposure to activated caspase-3. The results show that the probe is a promising tool for long-term stem cell tracking through MRI and early diagnosis of immune rejection-induced apoptosis through longitudinal fluorescence imaging.

    View details for DOI 10.7150/ntno.26389

    View details for PubMedID 29977742

    View details for PubMedCentralID PMC6030766

  • Comparison of Non-human Primate versus Human Induced Pluripotent Stem Cell-Derived Cardiomyocytes for Treatment of Myocardial Infarction. Stem cell reports Zhao, X., Chen, H., Xiao, D., Yang, H., Itzhaki, I., Qin, X., Chour, T., Aguirre, A., Lehmann, K., Kim, Y., Shukla, P., Holmström, A., Zhang, J. Z., Zhuge, Y., Ndoye, B. C., Zhao, M., Neofytou, E., Zimmermann, W. H., Jain, M., Wu, J. C. 2018; 10 (2): 422–35

    Abstract

    Non-human primates (NHPs) can serve as a human-like model to study cell therapy using induced pluripotent stem cell-derived cardiomyocytes (iPSC-CMs). However, whether the efficacy of NHP and human iPSC-CMs is mechanistically similar remains unknown. To examine this, RNU rats received intramyocardial injection of 1 × 107NHP or human iPSC-CMs or the same number of respective fibroblasts or PBS control (n = 9-14/group) at 4 days after 60-min coronary artery occlusion-reperfusion. Cardiac function and left ventricular remodeling were similarly improved in both iPSC-CM-treated groups. To mimic the ischemic environment in the infarcted heart, both cultured NHP and human iPSC-CMs underwent 24-hr hypoxia in vitro. Both cells and media were collected, and similarities in transcriptomic as well as metabolomic profiles were noted between both groups. In conclusion, both NHP and human iPSC-CMs confer similar cardioprotection in a rodent myocardial infarction model through relatively similar mechanisms via promotion of cell survival, angiogenesis, and inhibition of hypertrophy and fibrosis.

    View details for PubMedID 29398480

    View details for PubMedCentralID PMC5830958

  • Passive Stretch Induces Structural and Functional Maturation of Engineered Heart Muscle as Predicted by Computational Modeling. Stem cells (Dayton, Ohio) Abilez, O. J., Tzatzalos, E., Yang, H., Zhao, M. T., Jung, G., Zöllner, A. M., Tiburcy, M., Riegler, J., Matsa, E., Shukla, P., Zhuge, Y., Chour, T., Chen, V. C., Burridge, P. W., Karakikes, I., Kuhl, E., Bernstein, D., Couture, L. A., Gold, J. D., Zimmermann, W. H., Wu, J. C. 2017

    Abstract

    The ability to differentiate human pluripotent stem cells (hPSCs) into cardiomyocytes (CMs) makes them an attractive source for repairing injured myocardium, disease modeling, and drug testing. Although current differentiation protocols yield hPSC-CMs to >90% efficiency, hPSC-CMs exhibit immature characteristics. With the goal of overcoming this limitation, we tested the effects of varying passive stretch on engineered heart muscle (EHM) structural and functional maturation, guided by computational modeling.Human embryonic stem cells (hESCs, H7 line) or human induced pluripotent stem cells (hiPSCs, IMR-90 line) were differentiated to human pluripotent stem cell-derived cardiomyocytes (hPSC-CMs) in vitro using a small molecule based protocol. hPSC-CMs were characterized by troponin(+) flow cytometry as well as electrophysiological measurements. Afterwards, 1.2 x 10(6) hPSC-CMs were mixed with 0.4 x 10(6) human fibroblasts (IMR-90 line) (3:1 ratio) and Type-I collagen. The blend was cast into custom-made 12-mm long polydimethylsiloxane (PDMS) reservoirs to vary nominal passive stretch of EHMs to 5, 7, or 9 mm. EHM characteristics were monitored for up to 50 days, with EHMs having a passive stretch of 7 mm giving the most consistent formation. Based on our initial macroscopic observations of EHM formation, we created a computational model that predicts the stress distribution throughout EHMs, which is a function of cellular composition, cellular ratio, and geometry. Based on this predictive modeling, we show cell alignment by immunohistochemistry and coordinated calcium waves by calcium imaging. Furthermore, coordinated calcium waves and mechanical contractions were apparent throughout entire EHMs. The stiffness and active forces of hPSC-derived EHMs are comparable to rat neonatal cardiomyocyte-derived EHMs. Three-dimensional EHMs display increased expression of mature cardiomyocyte genes including sarcomeric protein troponin-T, calcium and potassium ion channels, β-adrenergic receptors, and t-tubule protein caveolin-3.Passive stretch affects the structural and functional maturation of EHMs. Based on our predictive computational modeling, we show how to optimize cell alignment and calcium dynamics within EHMs. These findings provide a basis for the rational design of EHMs, which enables future scale-up productions for clinical use in cardiovascular tissue engineering. This article is protected by copyright. All rights reserved.

    View details for PubMedID 29086457

  • Photoacoustic Imaging of Embryonic Stem Cell-Derived Cardiomyocytes in Living Hearts with Ultrasensitive Semiconducting Polymer Nanoparticles Advanced Functional Materials Qin, X., Chen, H., Yang, H., Wu, H., Zhao, X., Wang, H., Chour, T., Neofytou, E., Ding, D., Daldrup-Link, H., Heilshorn, S. C., Li, K., Wu, J. C. 2017

    View details for DOI 10.1002/adfm.201704939

  • Molecular and functional resemblance of differentiated cells derived from isogenic human iPSCs and SCNT-derived ESCs. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America Zhao, M. T., Chen, H., Liu, Q., Shao, N. Y., Sayed, N., Wo, H. T., Zhang, J. Z., Ong, S. G., Liu, C., Kim, Y., Yang, H., Chour, T., Ma, H., Gutierrez, N. M., Karakikes, I., Mitalipov, S., Snyder, M. P., Wu, J. C. 2017

    Abstract

    Patient-specific pluripotent stem cells (PSCs) can be generated via nuclear reprogramming by transcription factors (i.e., induced pluripotent stem cells, iPSCs) or by somatic cell nuclear transfer (SCNT). However, abnormalities and preclinical application of differentiated cells generated by different reprogramming mechanisms have yet to be evaluated. Here we investigated the molecular and functional features, and drug response of cardiomyocytes (PSC-CMs) and endothelial cells (PSC-ECs) derived from genetically relevant sets of human iPSCs, SCNT-derived embryonic stem cells (nt-ESCs), as well as in vitro fertilization embryo-derived ESCs (IVF-ESCs). We found that differentiated cells derived from isogenic iPSCs and nt-ESCs showed comparable lineage gene expression, cellular heterogeneity, physiological properties, and metabolic functions. Genome-wide transcriptome and DNA methylome analysis indicated that iPSC derivatives (iPSC-CMs and iPSC-ECs) were more similar to isogenic nt-ESC counterparts than those derived from IVF-ESCs. Although iPSCs and nt-ESCs shared the same nuclear DNA and yet carried different sources of mitochondrial DNA, CMs derived from iPSC and nt-ESCs could both recapitulate doxorubicin-induced cardiotoxicity and exhibited insignificant differences on reactive oxygen species generation in response to stress condition. We conclude that molecular and functional characteristics of differentiated cells from human PSCs are primarily attributed to the genetic compositions rather than the reprogramming mechanisms (SCNT vs. iPSCs). Therefore, human iPSCs can replace nt-ESCs as alternatives for generating patient-specific differentiated cells for disease modeling and preclinical drug testing.

    View details for PubMedID 29203658