Enhancing all-in-one bioreactors by combining interstitial perfusion, electrical stimulation, on-line monitoring and testing within a single chamber for cardiac constructs.
ABSTRACT: Tissue engineering strategies have been extensively exploited to generate functional cardiac patches. To maintain cardiac functionality in vitro, bioreactors have been designed to provide perfusion and electrical stimulation, alone or combined. However, due to several design limitations the integration of optical systems to assess cardiac maturation level is still missing within these platforms. Here we present a bioreactor culture chamber that provides 3D cardiac constructs with a bidirectional interstitial perfusion and biomimetic electrical stimulation, allowing direct cellular optical monitoring and contractility test. The chamber design was optimized through finite element models to house an innovative scaffold anchoring system to hold and to release it for the evaluation of tissue maturation and functionality by contractility tests. Neonatal rat cardiac fibroblasts subjected to a combined perfusion and electrical stimulation showed positive cell viability over time. Neonatal rat cardiomyocytes were successfully monitored for the entire culture period to assess their functionality. The combination of perfusion and electrical stimulation enhanced patch maturation, as evidenced by the higher contractility, the enhanced beating properties and the increased level of cardiac protein expression. This new multifunctional bioreactor provides a relevant biomimetic environment allowing for independently culturing, real-time monitoring and testing up to 18 separated patches.
Project description:In the past two decades, relevant advances have been made in the generation of engineered cardiac constructs to be used as functional in vitro models for cardiac research or drug testing, and with the ultimate but still challenging goal of repairing the damaged myocardium. To support cardiac tissue generation and maturation in vitro, the application of biomimetic physical stimuli within dedicated bioreactors is crucial. In particular, cardiac-like mechanical stimulation has been demonstrated to promote development and maturation of cardiac tissue models. Here, we developed an automated bioreactor platform for tunable cyclic stretch and in situ monitoring of the mechanical response of in vitro engineered cardiac tissues. To demonstrate the bioreactor platform performance and to investigate the effects of cyclic stretch on construct maturation and contractility, we developed 3D annular cardiac tissue models based on neonatal rat cardiac cells embedded in fibrin hydrogel. The constructs were statically pre-cultured for 5 days and then exposed to 4 days of uniaxial cyclic stretch (sinusoidal waveform, 10% strain, 1 Hz) within the bioreactor. Explanatory biological tests showed that cyclic stretch promoted cardiomyocyte alignment, maintenance, and maturation, with enhanced expression of typical mature cardiac markers compared to static controls. Moreover, in situ monitoring showed increasing passive force of the constructs along the dynamic culture. Finally, only the stretched constructs were responsive to external electrical pacing with synchronous and regular contractile activity, further confirming that cyclic stretching was instrumental for their functional maturation. This study shows that the proposed bioreactor platform is a reliable device for cyclic stretch culture and in situ monitoring of the passive mechanical response of the cultured constructs. The innovative feature of acquiring passive force measurements in situ and along the culture allows monitoring the construct maturation trend without interrupting the culture, making the proposed device a powerful tool for in vitro investigation and ultimately production of functional engineered cardiac constructs.
Project description:In vitro surrogate models of human cardiac tissue hold great promise in disease modeling, cardiotoxicity testing, and future applications in regenerative medicine. However, the generation of engineered human cardiac constructs with tissue-like functionality is currently thwarted by difficulties in achieving efficient maturation at the cellular and/or tissular level. Here, we report on the design and implementation of a platform for the production of engineered cardiac macrotissues from human pluripotent stem cells (PSCs), which we term "CardioSlice." PSC-derived cardiomyocytes, together with human fibroblasts, are seeded into large 3D porous scaffolds and cultured using a parallelized perfusion bioreactor with custom-made culture chambers. Continuous electrical stimulation for 2 weeks promotes cardiomyocyte alignment and synchronization, and the emergence of cardiac tissue-like properties. These include electrocardiogram-like signals that can be readily measured on the surface of CardioSlice constructs, and a response to proarrhythmic drugs that is predictive of their effect in human patients.
Project description:The application of tissue-engineering approaches to human induced pluripotent stem (hiPS) cells enables the development of physiologically relevant human tissue models for in vitro studies of development, regeneration, and disease. However, the immature phenotype of hiPS-derived cardiomyocytes (hiPS-CMs) limits their utility. We have developed a protocol to generate engineered cardiac tissues from hiPS cells and electromechanically mature them toward an adult-like phenotype. This protocol also provides optimized methods for analyzing these tissues' functionality, ultrastructure, and cellular properties. The approach relies on biological adaptation of cultured tissues subjected to biomimetic cues, applied at an increasing intensity, to drive accelerated maturation. hiPS cells are differentiated into cardiomyocytes and used immediately after the first contractions are observed, when they still have developmental plasticity. This starting cell population is combined with human dermal fibroblasts, encapsulated in a fibrin hydrogel and allowed to compact under passive tension in a custom-designed bioreactor. After 7 d of tissue formation, the engineered tissues are matured for an additional 21 d by increasingly intense electromechanical stimulation. Tissue properties can be evaluated by measuring contractile function, responsiveness to electrical stimuli, ultrastructure properties (sarcomere length, mitochondrial density, networks of transverse tubules), force-frequency and force-length relationships, calcium handling, and responses to ?-adrenergic agonists. Cell properties can be evaluated by monitoring gene/protein expression, oxidative metabolism, and electrophysiology. The protocol takes 4 weeks and requires experience in advanced cell culture and machining methods for bioreactor fabrication. We anticipate that this protocol will improve modeling of cardiac diseases and testing of drugs.
Project description:Biochemical and mechanical signals enabling cardiac regeneration can be elucidated using in vitro tissue-engineering models. We hypothesized that insulin-like growth factor-I (IGF) and slow, bi-directional perfusion could act independently and interactively to enhance the survival, differentiation, and contractile performance of tissue-engineered cardiac grafts. Heart cells were cultured on three-dimensional porous scaffolds in medium with or without supplemental IGF and in the presence or absence of slow, bi-directional perfusion that enhanced transport and provided shear stress. Structural, molecular, and electrophysiologic properties of the resulting grafts were quantified on culture day 8. IGF had independent, beneficial effects on apoptosis (p < 0.01), cellular viability (p < 0.01), contractile amplitude (p < 0.01), and excitation threshold (p < 0.01). Perfusion independently affected the four aforementioned parameters and also increased amounts of cardiac troponin-I (p < 0.01), connexin-43 (p < 0.05), and total protein (p < 0.01) in the grafts. Interactive effects of IGF and perfusion on apoptosis were also present (p < 0.01). Myofibrillogenesis and spontaneous contractility were present only in grafts cultured with perfusion, although contractility was inducible by electrical field stimulation of grafts from all groups. Our findings demonstrate that multi-factorial stimulation of tissue-engineered cardiac grafts using IGF and perfusion resulted in independent and interactive effects on heart cell survival, differentiation, and contractility.
Project description:Cardiac tissue engineering has a potential to provide functional, synchronously contractile tissue constructs for heart repair, and for studies of development and disease using in vivo-like yet controllable in vitro settings. In both cases, the utilization of bioreactors capable of providing biomimetic culture environments is instrumental for supporting cell differentiation and functional assembly. In the present study, neonatal rat heart cells were cultured on highly porous collagen scaffolds in bioreactors with electrical field stimulation. A hallmark of excitable tissues such as myocardium is the ability to propagate electrical impulses. We utilized the method of optical mapping to measure the electrical impulse propagation. The average conduction velocity recorded for the stimulated constructs (14.4 +/- 4.1 cm/s) was significantly higher than that of the nonstimulated constructs (8.6 +/- 2.3 cm/s, p = 0.003). The measured electrical propagation properties correlated to the contractile behavior and the compositions of tissue constructs. Electrical stimulation during culture significantly improved amplitude of contractions, tissue morphology, and connexin-43 expression compared to the nonsimulated controls. These data provide evidence that electrical stimulation during bioreactor cultivation can improve electrical signal propagation in engineered cardiac constructs.
Project description:Stem cell-based cardiac tissue engineering is a promising approach for regenerative therapy of the injured heart. At present, the small number of stem cell-derived cardiomyocytes that can be obtained using current culture and enrichment techniques represents one of the key limitations for the development of functional bioartificial cardiac tissue (BCT). We have addressed this problem by construction of a novel bioreactor with functional features of larger systems that enables the generation and in situ monitoring of miniaturized BCTs. BCTs were generated from rat cardiomyocytes to demonstrate advantages and usefulness of the bioreactor. Tissues showed spontaneous, synchronized contractions with cell orientation along the axis of strain. Cyclic stretch induced cardiomyocyte hypertrophy, demonstrated by a shift of myosin heavy chain expression from the alpha to beta isoform, together with elevated levels of atrial natriuretic factor. Stretch led to a moderate increase in systolic force (1.42?±?0.09?mN vs. 0.96?±?0.09?mN in controls), with significantly higher forces observed after ?-adrenergic stimulation with noradrenalin (2.54?±?0.11?mN). Combined mechanical and ?-adrenergic stimulation had no synergistic effect. This study demonstrates for the first time that mechanical stimulation and direct real-time contraction force measurement can be combined into a single multimodal bioreactor system, including electrical stimulation of excitable tissue, perfusion of the culture chamber, and the possibility of (fluorescence) microscopic assessment during continuous cultivation. Thus, this bioreactor represents a valuable tool for monitoring tissue development and, ultimately, the optimization of stem cell-based tissue replacement strategies in regenerative medicine.
Project description:Tissue engineering enables the generation of three-dimensional (3D) functional cardiac tissue for pre-clinical testing in vitro, which is critical for new drug development. However, current tissue engineering methods poorly recapitulate the architecture of oriented cardiac bundles with supporting capillaries. In this study, we designed a microfabricated bioreactor to generate 3D micro-tissues, termed biowires, using both primary neonatal rat cardiomyocytes and human embryonic stem cell (hESC) derived cardiomyocytes. Perfusable cardiac biowires were generated with polytetrafluoroethylene (PTFE) tubing template, and were integrated with electrical field stimulation using carbon rod electrodes. To demonstrate the feasibility of this platform for pharmaceutical testing, nitric oxide (NO) was released from perfused sodium nitroprusside (SNP) solution and diffused through the tubing. The NO treatment slowed down the spontaneous beating of cardiac biowires based on hESC derived cardiomyocytes and degraded the myofibrillar cytoskeleton of the cardiomyocytes within the biowires. The biowires were also integrated with electrical stimulation using carbon rod electrodes to further improve phenotype of cardiomyocytes, as indicated by organized contractile apparatus, higher Young's modulus, and improved electrical properties. This microfabricated platform provides a unique opportunity to assess pharmacological effects on cardiac tissue in vitro by perfusion in a cardiac bundle model, which could provide improved physiological relevance.
Project description:We introduce a novel method to form 3D biomimetic tissues from a droplet of a cell-extracellular matrix (ECM) mixture on a sensor stage and to quantify tissue force and stiffness as a function of time under optical microscopes. This method exploits advances in micro-nano fabrication and capillarity for self-assembly and self-alignment of tissues on the stage. It allows simultaneous investigation of the microstructure of the tissue in situ while its mechanical response is quantified, thus linking tissue biophysics with physiology and revealing structural-functional properties of 3D tissues. We demonstrate the functionality of the stage by studying the mechanical behavior of different cell-collagen mixtures under mechanical, chemical and electrical stimulation. This includes force evolution in cell-free collagen during curing, myotubes differentiated from muscle cell-collagen/Matrigel ECM subjected to electrical stimulation, and fibroblast-collagen tissue subjected to cancer cell conditioned media (CM) and a Rho-kinase inhibitor, Y27632. Muscle contraction decreases with increasing frequency of electrical stimulation, and fibroblasts respond to CM by increasing contractility for a short time and completely relax in the presence of Y27632 but restore force with Y27632 washout.
Project description:The characteristics of the matrix (composition, structure, mechanical properties) and external culture environment (pulsatile perfusion, physical stimulation) of the heart are important characteristics in the engineering of functional myocardial tissue. This study reports on the development of chitosan-collagen scaffolds with micropores and an array of parallel channels (~?200?µm in diameter) that were specifically designed for cardiac tissue engineering using mechanical stimulation. The scaffolds were designed to have similar structural and mechanical properties of those of native heart matrix. Scaffolds were seeded with neonatal rat heart cells and subjected to dynamic tensile stretch using a custom designed bioreactor. The channels enhanced oxygen transport and facilitated the establishment of cell connections within the construct. The myocardial patches (14?mm in diameter, 1-2?mm thick) consisted of metabolically active cells that began to contract synchronously after 3?days of culture. Mechanical stimulation with high tensile stress promoted cell alignment, elongation, and expression of connexin-43 (Cx-43). This study confirms the importance of scaffold design and mechanical stimulation for the formation of contractile cardiac constructs.
Project description:Exogenous electric fields have been implied in cardiac differentiation of mouse embryonic stem cells and the generation of reactive oxygen species (ROS). In this work, we explored the effects of electrical field stimulation on ROS generation and cardiogenesis in embryoid bodies (EBs) derived from human embryonic stem cells (hESC, line H13), using a custom-built electrical stimulation bioreactor. Electrical properties of the bioreactor system were characterized by electrochemical impedance spectroscopy (EIS) and analysis of electrical currents. The effects of the electrode material (stainless steel, titanium-nitride-coated titanium, titanium), length of stimulus (1 and 90 s) and age of EBs at the onset of electrical stimulation (4 and 8 days) were investigated with respect to ROS generation. The amplitude of the applied electrical field was 1 V/mm. The highest rate of ROS generation was observed for stainless steel electrodes, for signal duration of 90 s and for 4-day-old EBs. Notably, comparable ROS generation was achieved by incubation of EBs with 1 nM H(2)O(2). Cardiac differentiation in these EBs was evidenced by spontaneous contractions, expression of troponin T and its sarcomeric organization. These results imply that electrical stimulation plays a role in cardiac differentiation of hESCs, through mechanisms associated with the intracellular generation of ROS.