In vitro cardiovascular disease models need to recapitulate tissue-scale function in order to provide in vivo relevance. We have developed a new method for measuring the contractility of engineered cardiovascular smooth and striated muscle in vitro during electrical and pharmacological stimulation. We present a growth theory-based finite elasticity analysis for calculating the contractile stresses of a 2D anisotropic muscle tissue cultured on a flexible synthetic polymer thin film. Cardiac muscle engineered with neonatal rat ventricular myocytes and paced at 0.5 Hz generated stresses of 9.2 +/- 3.5 kPa at peak systole, similar to measurements of the contractility of papillary muscle from adult rats. Vascular tissue engineered with human umbilical arterial smooth muscle cells maintained a basal contractile tone of 13.1 +/- 2.1 kPa and generated another 5.1 +/- 0.8 kPa when stimulated with endothelin-1. These data suggest that this method may be useful in assessing the efficacy and safety of pharmacological agents on cardiovascular tissue.
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