Epicardioid single-cell genomics uncovers principles of human epicardium biology in heart development and disease

Anna B. Meier, Dorota Zawada, Maria Teresa De Angelis, Laura D. Martens, Gianluca Santamaria, Sophie Zengerle, Monika Nowak-Imialek, Jessica Kornherr, Fangfang Zhang, Qinghai Tian, Cordula M. Wolf, Christian Kupatt, Makoto Sahara, Peter Lipp, Fabian J. Theis, Julien Gagneur, Alexander Goedel, Karl Ludwig Laugwitz, Tatjana Dorn, Alessandra Moretti

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

12 Scopus citations


The epicardium, the mesothelial envelope of the vertebrate heart, is the source of multiple cardiac cell lineages during embryonic development and provides signals that are essential to myocardial growth and repair. Here we generate self-organizing human pluripotent stem cell-derived epicardioids that display retinoic acid-dependent morphological, molecular and functional patterning of the epicardium and myocardium typical of the left ventricular wall. By combining lineage tracing, single-cell transcriptomics and chromatin accessibility profiling, we describe the specification and differentiation process of different cell lineages in epicardioids and draw comparisons to human fetal development at the transcriptional and morphological levels. We then use epicardioids to investigate the functional cross-talk between cardiac cell types, gaining new insights into the role of IGF2/IGF1R and NRP2 signaling in human cardiogenesis. Finally, we show that epicardioids mimic the multicellular pathogenesis of congenital or stress-induced hypertrophy and fibrotic remodeling. As such, epicardioids offer a unique testing ground of epicardial activity in heart development, disease and regeneration.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1787-1800
Number of pages14
JournalNature Biotechnology
Issue number12
StatePublished - Dec 2023


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