Muscle on a chip: in vitro contractility assays for smooth and striated muscle.
ABSTRACT: To evaluate the viability of a muscle tissue, it is essential to measure the tissue's contractile performance as well as to control its structure. Accurate contractility data can aid in development of more effective and safer drugs. This can be accomplished with a robust in vitro contractility assay applicable to various types of muscle tissue.The devices developed in this work were based on the muscular thin film (MTF) technology, in which an elastic film is manufactured with a 2D engineered muscle tissue on one side. The tissue template is made by patterning extracellular matrix with microcontact printing. When muscle cells are seeded on the film, they self-organize with respect to the geometric cues in the matrix to form a tissue.Several assays based on the "MTF on a chip" technology are demonstrated. One such assay incorporates the contractility assay with striated muscle into a fluidic channel. Another assay platform incorporates the MTFs in a multi-well plate, which is compatible with automated data collection and analysis. Finally, we demonstrate the possibility of analyzing contractility of both striated and smooth muscle simultaneously on the same chip.In this work, we assembled an ensemble of contractility assays for striated and smooth muscle based on muscular thin films. Our results suggest an improvement over current methods and an alternative to isolated tissue preparations. Our technology is amenable to both primary harvests cells and cell lines, as well as both human and animal tissues.
Project description:Traditionally, muscle physiology experiments require multiple tissue samples to obtain morphometric, electrophysiological, and contractility data. Furthermore, these experiments are commonly completed one at a time on cover slips of single cells, isotropic monolayers, or in isolated muscle strips. In all of these cases, variability of the samples hinders quantitative comparisons among experimental groups. Here, we report the design of a "heart on a chip" that exploits muscular thin film technology--biohybrid constructs of an engineered, anisotropic ventricular myocardium on an elastomeric thin film--to measure contractility, combined with a quantification of action potential propagation, and cytoskeletal architecture in multiple tissues in the same experiment. We report techniques for real-time data collection and analysis during pharmacological intervention. The chip is an efficient means of measuring structure-function relationships in constructs that replicate the hierarchical tissue architectures of laminar cardiac muscle.
Project description:Vascular smooth muscle cells' primary function is to maintain vascular homeostasis through active contraction and relaxation. In diseases such as hypertension and atherosclerosis, this function is inhibited concurrent to changes in the mechanical environment surrounding vascular smooth muscle cells. It is well established that cell function and extracellular mechanics are interconnected; variations in substrate modulus affect cell migration, proliferation, and differentiation. To date, it is unknown how the evolving extracellular mechanical environment of vascular smooth muscle cells affects their contractile function. Here, we have built upon previous vascular muscular thin film technology to develop a variable-modulus vascular muscular thin film that measures vascular tissue functional contractility on substrates with a range of pathological and physiological moduli. Using this modified vascular muscular thin film, we found that vascular smooth muscle cells generated greater stress on substrates with higher moduli compared to substrates with lower moduli. We then measured protein markers typically thought to indicate a contractile phenotype in vascular smooth muscle cells and found that phenotype is unaffected by substrate modulus. These data suggest that mechanical properties of vascular smooth muscle cells' extracellular environment directly influence their functional behavior and do so without inducing phenotype switching.
Project description:We present the design of a higher throughput "heart on a chip" which utilizes a semi-automated fabrication technique to process sub millimeter sized thin film cantilevers of soft elastomers. Anisotropic cardiac microtissues which recapitulate the laminar architecture of the heart ventricle are engineered on these cantilevers. Deflection of these cantilevers, termed Muscular Thin Films (MTFs), during muscle contraction allows calculation of diastolic and systolic stresses generated by the engineered tissues. We also present the design of a reusable one channel fluidic microdevice completely built out of autoclavable materials which incorporates various features required for an optical cardiac contractility assay: metallic base which fits on a heating element for temperature control, transparent top for recording cantilever deformation and embedded electrodes for electrical field stimulation of the tissue. We employ the microdevice to test the positive inotropic effect of isoproterenol on cardiac contractility at dosages ranging from 1 nM to 100 ?M. The higher throughput fluidic heart on a chip has applications in testing of cardiac tissues built from rare or expensive cell sources and for integration with other organ mimics. These advances will help alleviate translational barriers for commercial adoption of these technologies by improving the throughput and reproducibility of readout, standardization of the platform and scalability of manufacture.
Project description:In vitro cardiovascular disease models need to recapitulate tissue-scale function in order to provide in vivo relevance. We have developed a new method for measuring the contractility of engineered cardiovascular smooth and striated muscle in vitro during electrical and pharmacological stimulation. We present a growth theory-based finite elasticity analysis for calculating the contractile stresses of a 2D anisotropic muscle tissue cultured on a flexible synthetic polymer thin film. Cardiac muscle engineered with neonatal rat ventricular myocytes and paced at 0.5 Hz generated stresses of 9.2 +/- 3.5 kPa at peak systole, similar to measurements of the contractility of papillary muscle from adult rats. Vascular tissue engineered with human umbilical arterial smooth muscle cells maintained a basal contractile tone of 13.1 +/- 2.1 kPa and generated another 5.1 +/- 0.8 kPa when stimulated with endothelin-1. These data suggest that this method may be useful in assessing the efficacy and safety of pharmacological agents on cardiovascular tissue.
Project description:The myoepithelial sheath in the somatic gonad of the nematode Caenorhabditis elegans has nonstriated contractile actomyosin networks that produce highly coordinated contractility for ovulation of mature oocytes. Two myosin heavy chains are expressed in the myoepithelial sheath, which are also expressed in the body-wall striated muscle. The troponin/tropomyosin system is also present and essential for ovulation. Therefore, although the myoepithelial sheath has smooth muscle-like contractile apparatuses, it has a striated muscle-like regulatory mechanism through troponin/tropomyosin. Here we report that the myoepithelial sheath has a distinct myosin population containing nonmuscle myosin II isoforms, which is regulated by phosphorylation and essential for ovulation. MLC-4, a nonmuscle myosin regulatory light chain, localizes to small punctate structures and does not colocalize with large, needle-like myosin filaments containing MYO-3, a striated-muscle myosin isoform. RNA interference of MLC-4, as well as of its upstream regulators, LET-502 (Rho-associated coiled-coil forming kinase) and MEL-11 (a myosin-binding subunit of myosin phosphatase), impairs ovulation. Expression of a phosphomimetic MLC-4 mutant mimicking a constitutively active state also impairs ovulation. A striated-muscle myosin (UNC-54) appears to provide partially compensatory contractility. Thus the results indicate that the two spatially distinct myosin II populations coordinately regulate ovulatory contraction of the myoepithelial sheath.
Project description:Sarcopenia is a syndrome characterized by a progressive and generalized skeletal muscle mass and strength loss, as well as a poor physical performance, which as strongly been associated with aging. Sedentary lifestyle in the elderly contributes to this condition; however, physical activity improves health, reducing morbidity and mortality. Recent studies have shown that metformin (MTF) can also prevent muscle damage promoting muscular performance. To date, there is great controversy if MTF treatment combined with exercise training improves or nullifies the benefits provided by physical activity. This study is aimed at evaluating the effect of long-term moderate exercise combined with MTF treatment on body composition, strength, redox state, and survival rate during the life of female Wistar rats. In this study, rats performed moderate exercise during 20 of their 24 months of life and were treated with MTF for one year or for 6 months, i.e., from 12 to 24 months old and 18 to 24 months old. The body composition (percentage of fat, bone, and lean mass) was determined using a dual-energy X-ray absorption scanner (DXA), and grip strength was determined using a dynamometer. Likewise, medial and tibial nerve somatosensory evoked potentials were evaluated and the redox state was measured by HPLC, calculating the GSH/GSSG ratio in the gastrocnemius muscle. Our results suggest- that the MTF administration, both in the sedentary and the exercise groups, might activate a mechanism that is directly related to the induction of the hormetic response through the redox state modulation. MTF treatment does not eliminate the beneficial effects of exercise throughout life, and although MTF does not increase muscle mass, it increases longevity.
Project description:The esophagus is a muscular tube which transports swallowed content from the oral cavity and the pharynx to the stomach. Early in mouse development, an entire layer of the esophagus, the muscularis externa, consists of differentiated smooth muscle cells. Starting shortly after mid-gestation till about two weeks after birth, the muscularis externa almost entirely consists of striated muscle. This proximal-to-distal replacement of smooth muscle by the striated muscle depends on a number of factors. To identify the nature of the hypothetical “proximal” (mainly striated muscle originating) and “distal” (mainly smooth muscle originating) signals that govern the striated-for-smooth muscle replacement, we compared the esophagus of Myf5:MyoD null fetuses completely lacking striated muscle to the normal control using cDNA microarray analysis, followed by a comprehensive databases search. Here we provide an insight into the nature of “proximal” and “distal” signals that govern the striated-for-smooth muscle replacement in the esophagus. Overall design: Mouse embryos were obtained at E18.5 for RNA extraction and hybridization on Affymetrix microarrays.
Project description:Identification of factors that improve muscle function in boys with Duchenne muscular dystrophy (DMD) could lead to an improved quality of life. To establish a functional in vitro assay for muscle strength, mdx murine myoblasts, the genetic homologue of DMD, were tissue engineered in 96-microwell plates into 3-dimensional muscle constructs with parallel arrays of striated muscle fibers. When electrically stimulated, they generated tetanic forces measured with an automated motion tracking system. Thirty-one compounds of interest as potential treatments for patients with DMD were tested at 3 to 6 concentrations. Eleven of the compounds (insulin-like growth factor-1, creatine, beta-hydroxy-beta-methylbutyrate, trichostatin A, lisinopril, and 6 from the glucocorticoid family) significantly increased tetanic force relative to placebo-treated controls. The glucocorticoids methylprednisolone, deflazacort, and prednisone increased tetanic forces at low doses (EC(50) of 6, 19, and 56 nM, respectively), indicating a direct muscle mechanism by which they may be benefitting DMD patients. The tetanic force assay also identified beneficial compound interactions (arginine plus deflazacort and prednisone plus creatine) as well as deleterious interactions (prednisone plus creatine inhibited by pentoxifylline) of combinatorial therapies taken by some DMD patients. Since mdx muscle in vivo and DMD patients respond in a similar manner to many of these compounds, the in vitro assay will be a useful tool for the rapid identification of new potential treatments for muscle weakness in DMD and other muscle disorders.
Project description:Biomarkers are critically important for disease diagnosis and monitoring. In particular, close monitoring of disease evolution is eminently required for the evaluation of therapeutic treatments. Classical monitoring methods in muscular dystrophies are largely based on histological and molecular analyses of muscle biopsies. Such biopsies are invasive and therefore difficult to obtain. The serum protein creatine kinase is a useful biomarker, which is however not specific for a given pathology and correlates poorly with the severity or course of the muscular pathology. The aim of the present study was the systematic evaluation of serum microRNAs (miRNAs) as biomarkers in striated muscle pathologies. Mouse models for five striated muscle pathologies were investigated: Duchenne muscular dystrophy (DMD), limb-girdle muscular dystrophy type 2D (LGMD2D), limb-girdle muscular dystrophy type 2C (LGMD2C), Emery-Dreifuss muscular dystrophy (EDMD) and hypertrophic cardiomyopathy (HCM). Two-step RT-qPCR methodology was elaborated, using two different RT-qPCR miRNA quantification technologies. We identified miRNA modulation in the serum of all the five mouse models. The most highly dysregulated serum miRNAs were found to be commonly upregulated in DMD, LGMD2D and LGMD2C mouse models, which all exhibit massive destruction of striated muscle tissues. Some of these miRNAs were down rather than upregulated in the EDMD mice, a model without massive myofiber destruction. The dysregulated miRNAs identified in the HCM model were different, with the exception of one dysregulated miRNA common to all pathologies. Importantly, a specific and distinctive circulating miRNA profile was identified for each studied pathological mouse model. The differential expression of a few dysregulated miRNAs in the DMD mice was further evaluated in DMD patients, providing new candidates of circulating miRNA biomarkers for DMD.
Project description:The ability to assess changes in smooth muscle contractility and pharmacological responsiveness in normal or pathological-relevant vascular tissue environments is critical to enable vascular drug discovery. However, major challenges remain in both capturing the complexity of in vivo vascular remodeling and evaluating cell contractility in complex, tissue-like environments. Herein, we developed a biomimetic fibrous hydrogel with tunable structure, stiffness, and composition to resemble the native vascular tissue environment. This hydrogel platform was further combined with the combinatory protein array technology as well as advanced approaches to measure cell mechanics and contractility, thus permitting evaluation of smooth muscle functions in a variety of tissue-like microenvironments. Our results demonstrated that biomimetic fibrous structure played a dominant role in smooth muscle function, while the presentation of adhesion proteins co-regulated it to various degrees. Specifically, fibre networks enabled cell infiltration and upregulated expression of actomyosin proteins in contrast to flat hydrogels. Remarkably, fibrous structure and physiologically relevant stiffness of hydrogels cooperatively enhanced smooth muscle contractility and pharmacological responses to vasoactive drugs at both the single cell and intact tissue levels. Together, this study is the first to demonstrate alterations of human vascular smooth muscle contractility and pharmacological responsiveness in biomimetic soft, fibrous environments with a cellular array platform. The integrated platform produced here could enable investigations for pathobiology and pharmacological interventions by developing a broad range of patho-physiologically relevant in vitro tissue models. STATEMENT OF SIGNIFICANCE:Engineering functional smooth muscle in vitro holds the great potential for diseased tissue replacement and drug testing. A central challenge is recapitulating the smooth muscle contractility and pharmacological responses given its significant phenotypic plasticity in response to changes in environment. We present a biomimetic fibrous hydrogel with tunable structure, stiffness, and composition that enables the creation of functional smooth muscle tissues in the native-like vascular tissue microenvironment. Such fibrous hydrogel is further combined with the combinatory protein array technology to construct a cellular array for evaluation of smooth muscle phenotype, contraction, and cell mechanics. The integrated platform produced here could be promising for developing a broad range of normal or diseased in vitro tissue models.