One of the obstacles to a better understanding of the pathogenesis of human cardiomyopathies has been poor availability of heart-tissue samples at early stages of disease development. This has possibly changed by the advent of patient-derived induced pluripotent stem cell (hiPSC) from which cardiomyocytes can be derived in vitro. The main promise of hiPSC technology is that by capturing the effects of thousands of individual gene variants, the phenotype of differentiated derivatives of these cells will provide more information on a particular disease than simple genotyping. This article summarizes what is known about the 'human cardiomyopathy or heart failure phenotype in vitro', which constitutes the reference for modelling sarcomeric cardiomyopathies in hiPSC-derived cardiomyocytes. The current techniques for hiPSC generation and cardiac myocyte differentiation are briefly reviewed and the few published reports of hiPSC models of sarcomeric cardiomyopathies described. A discussion of promises and challenges of hiPSC-modelling of sarcomeric cardiomyopathies and individualized approaches is followed by a number of questions that, in the view of the authors, need to be answered before the true potential of this technology can be evaluated.
© The Author 2015. Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of the European Society of Cardiology.