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Nano Lett. 2015 May 13;15(5):2765-72. doi: 10.1021/nl502227a. Epub 2015 Apr 7.

Silicon nanowire-induced maturation of cardiomyocytes derived from human induced pluripotent stem cells.

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†Bioengineering Department, Clemson University, Clemson, South Carolina 29634, United States.
‡Department of Chemistry, the James Franck Institute and the Institute for Biophysical Dynamics, University of Chicago, Chicago, Illinois 60637, United States.
§Division of Cardiology, Department of Medicine, Gazes Cardiac Research Institute, Medical University of South Carolina, Charleston, South Carolina 29425, United States.
∥Department of Regenerative Medicine and Cell Biology, Medical University of South Carolina, Charleston, South Carolina 29425, United States.


The current inability to derive mature cardiomyocytes from human pluripotent stem cells has been the limiting step for transitioning this powerful technology into clinical therapies. To address this, scaffold-based tissue engineering approaches have been utilized to mimic heart development in vitro and promote maturation of cardiomyocytes derived from human pluripotent stem cells. While scaffolds can provide 3D microenvironments, current scaffolds lack the matched physical/chemical/biological properties of native extracellular environments. On the other hand, scaffold-free, 3D cardiac spheroids (i.e., spherical-shaped microtissues) prepared by seeding cardiomyocytes into agarose microwells were shown to improve cardiac functions. However, cardiomyocytes within the spheroids could not assemble in a controlled manner and led to compromised, unsynchronized contractions. Here, we show, for the first time, that incorporation of a trace amount (i.e., ∼0.004% w/v) of electrically conductive silicon nanowires (e-SiNWs) in otherwise scaffold-free cardiac spheroids can form an electrically conductive network, leading to synchronized and significantly enhanced contraction (i.e., >55% increase in average contraction amplitude), resulting in significantly more advanced cellular structural and contractile maturation.


cardiac spheroids; cardiomyocytes; human induced pluripotent stem cells; maturation; silicon nanowires

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