A novel functional assessment of the differentiation of micropatterned muscle cells

J Biomech. 2008 Dec 5;41(16):3349-53. doi: 10.1016/j.jbiomech.2008.09.025. Epub 2008 Nov 12.


Duchenne muscular dystrophy (DMD) is a lethal disease characterized by rapid, progressive atrophy of muscle tissues. Timely screening of therapeutic interventions is necessary for the development of effective treatment approaches for DMD. We have developed an in vitro model using a combination of micropatterning of C2C12 skeletal muscle cells and cell traction force microscopy (CTFM). In this model, C2C12 cells were micropatterned on a highly elongated adhesive island such that the cells assumed a shape typical of a myotube. During differentiation, these cells gradually fused together and began expressing dystrophin, a structural protein of myotubes, meanwhile, their contractile forces, represented by cell traction forces, continually increased until the myotubes reached maturation. In addition, the high-degree alignment of cells favored myotube differentiation and dystrophin expression. Since the fundamental structural unit of muscle tissue is myofiber, which is responsible for muscle contraction, such a technology that can directly quantify the contractile forces of the myotube, a precursor of myofiber, may constitute a fast and efficient screening approach for DMD therapies.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cell Adhesion
  • Cell Aggregation
  • Cell Culture Techniques / methods*
  • Cell Differentiation
  • Cell Proliferation
  • Dystrophin / metabolism*
  • Mice
  • Myoblasts / cytology*
  • Myoblasts / physiology*
  • Tissue Engineering / methods*


  • Dystrophin