Micropatterned matrix directs differentiation of human mesenchymal stem cells towards myocardial lineage

Exp Cell Res. 2010 Apr 15;316(7):1159-68. doi: 10.1016/j.yexcr.2010.02.010. Epub 2010 Feb 13.


Stem cell response can be influenced by a multitude of chemical, topological and mechanical physiochemical cues. While extensive studies have been focused on the use of soluble factors to direct stem cell differentiation, there are growing evidences illustrating the potential to modulate stem cell differentiation via precise engineering of cell shape. Fibronectin were printed on poly(lactic-co-glycolic acid) (PLGA) thin film forming spatially defined geometries as a means to control the morphology of bone marrow derived human mesenchymal stem cells (hMSCs). hMSCs that were cultured on unpatterned substrata adhered and flattened extensively (approximately 10,000 microm(2)) while cells grown on 20 microm micropatterend wide adhesive strips were highly elongated with much smaller area coverage of approximately 2000 microm(2). Gene expression analysis revealed up-regulation of several hallmark markers associated to neurogenesis and myogenesis for cells that were highly elongated while osteogenic markers were specifically down-regulated or remained at its nominal level. Even though there is clearly upregulated levels of both neuronal and myogenic lineages but at the functionally relevant level of protein expression, the myogenic lineage is dominant within the time scale studied as determined by the exclusive expression of cardiac myosin heavy chain for the micropatterned cells. Enforced cell shape distortion resulting in large scale rearrangement of cytoskeletal network and altered nucleus shape has been proposed as a physical impetus by which mechanical deformation is translated into biochemical response. These results demonstrated for the first time that cellular shape modulation in the absence of any induction factors may be a viable strategy to coax lineage-specific differentiation of stem cells.

Publication types

  • Evaluation Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Bone Marrow Cells / metabolism
  • Bone Marrow Cells / physiology
  • Cell Count
  • Cell Culture Techniques
  • Cell Differentiation / drug effects
  • Cell Differentiation / genetics
  • Cell Differentiation / physiology*
  • Cell Lineage* / drug effects
  • Cell Lineage* / genetics
  • Cell Shape
  • Cells, Cultured
  • Extracellular Matrix / physiology*
  • Humans
  • Lactic Acid / chemistry
  • Lactic Acid / pharmacology
  • Male
  • Membranes, Artificial*
  • Mesenchymal Stem Cells / drug effects
  • Mesenchymal Stem Cells / metabolism
  • Mesenchymal Stem Cells / physiology*
  • Microchemistry / methods
  • Myocardium / cytology
  • Myocardium / metabolism
  • Myocytes, Cardiac / drug effects
  • Myocytes, Cardiac / metabolism
  • Myocytes, Cardiac / physiology*
  • Polyglycolic Acid / chemistry
  • Polyglycolic Acid / pharmacology
  • Polylactic Acid-Polyglycolic Acid Copolymer
  • Tissue Scaffolds / chemistry


  • Membranes, Artificial
  • Polylactic Acid-Polyglycolic Acid Copolymer
  • Polyglycolic Acid
  • Lactic Acid