Electrophysiological variability in cardiomyocytes derived from pluripotent stem cells continues to be an impediment for their scientific and translational applications. We studied the variability of action potentials (APs) recorded from clusters of human embryonic stem cell-derived cardiomyocytes (hESC-CMs) using high-resolution optical mapping. Over 23,000 APs were analyzed through four parameters: APD 30, APD 80, triangulation and fractional repolarization. Although measures were taken to reduce variability due to cell culture conditions and rate-dependency of APs, we still observed significant variability in APs among and within the clusters. However, similar APs were found in spatial locations with close proximity, and in some clusters formed distinct regions having different AP characteristics that were reflected as separate peaks in the AP parameter distributions, suggesting multiple electrophysiological phenotypes. Using a recently developed automated method to group cells based on their entire AP shape, we identified distinct regions of different phenotypes within single clusters and common phenotypes across different clusters when separating APs into 2 or 3 subpopulations. The systematic analysis of the heterogeneity and potential phenotypes of large populations of hESC-CMs can be used to evaluate strategies to improve the quality of pluripotent stem cell-derived cardiomyocytes for use in diagnostic and therapeutic applications and in drug screening.
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