Tuesday, 16 April 2013

Stiff matrices are the key for cardiac tissue engineering

A new study published by researchers at the University of California, (UCLA) shows that the elasticity of the physical matrix used for growing heart muscle cells (cardiomyocytes) in the laboraty, is a key-factor for the success of cardiac tissue engineering.

In this study the UCLA researchers, led by Atsushi Nakano and James Gimzewski, investigated how matrix rigidity affects the cardiac differentiation of mouse and human embryonic stem cells. To do so, they cultured the cells on polydimethylsiloxane substrates of varied stiffness.

A beating cardiomyocyte

The researchers then discovered that stiff or rigid environments:
  • Increased the cardiomyocyte production 
  • Enhanced the function of existing cardiomyocytes

"Together, these data identify matrix stiffness as an independent factor that instructs not only the maturation of already differentiated cardiomyocytes but also the induction and proliferation of cardiomyocytes from undifferentiated progenitors." extract from the study

The researchers say that further research is needed to examine how biophysical cues like stifness influence the embryonic stem cell differentiation process, to further improve the current methods used for growing cardiac tissue.

"Manipulation of the stiffness will help direct the production of functional cardiomyocytes en masse from stem cells for regenerative medicine purposes." extract from the study

Arshi, A., Nakashima, Y., Nakano, H., Eaimkhong, S., Evseenko, D., Reed, J., Stieg, A., Gimzewski, J., & Nakano, A. (2013). Rigid microenvironments promote cardiac differentiation of mouse and human embryonic stem cells Science and Technology of Advanced Materials, 14 (2) DOI: 10.1088/1468-6996/14/2/025003

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