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Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2004 Dec 28;101(52):18129-34. Epub 2004 Dec 16.

Functional assembly of engineered myocardium by electrical stimulation of cardiac myocytes cultured on scaffolds.

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  • 1Harvard-MIT Division of Health Sciences and Technology, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, 77 Massachusetts Avenue, E25-342, Cambridge, MA 02139, USA.


The major challenge of tissue engineering is directing the cells to establish the physiological structure and function of the tissue being replaced across different hierarchical scales. To engineer myocardium, biophysical regulation of the cells needs to recapitulate multiple signals present in the native heart. We hypothesized that excitation-contraction coupling, critical for the development and function of a normal heart, determines the development and function of engineered myocardium. To induce synchronous contractions of cultured cardiac constructs, we applied electrical signals designed to mimic those in the native heart. Over only 8 days in vitro, electrical field stimulation induced cell alignment and coupling, increased the amplitude of synchronous construct contractions by a factor of 7, and resulted in a remarkable level of ultrastructural organization. Development of conductive and contractile properties of cardiac constructs was concurrent, with strong dependence on the initiation and duration of electrical stimulation.

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