Cardiac muscle fibers consist of highly aligned cardiomyocytes containing myofibrils oriented parallel to the fiber axis, and successive cardiomyocytes are interconnected at their ends through specialized junctional complexes (intercalated disks). Cell culture studies of cardiac myofibrils and intercalated disks are complicated by the fact that cardiomyocytes become extremely flattened and exhibit disorganized myofibrils and diffuse intercellular junctions with neighboring cells. In this study we sought to direct the organization of cultured cardiomyocytes to more closely resemble that found in vivo. Lanes of laminin 5-50 microm wide were microcontact-printed onto nonadhesive (BSA-coated) surfaces. Adherent cardiomyocytes responded to the spatial constraints by forming elongated, rod-shaped cells whose myofibrils aligned parallel to the laminin lanes. Patterned cardiomyocytes displayed a striking, bipolar localization of the junction molecules N-cadherin and connexin43 that ultrastructurally resembled intercalated disks. When laminin lanes were widely spaced, each lane of cardiomyocytes beat independently, but with narrow-spacing cells bridged between lanes, yielding aligned fields of synchronously beating cardiomyocytes. Similar cardiomyocyte patterns were achieved on the biodegradable polymer PLGA, suggesting that patterned cardiomyocytes could be used in myocardial tissue engineering. Such highly patterned cultures could be used in cell biology and physiology studies, which require accurate reproduction of native myocardial architecture.
Copyright 2002 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.