Micropatterning topology on soft substrates affects myoblast proliferation and differentiation

Langmuir. 2012 Feb 7;28(5):2718-26. doi: 10.1021/la204776e. Epub 2012 Jan 25.


Micropatterning techniques and substrate engineering are becoming useful tools to investigate several aspects of cell-cell interaction biology. In this work, we rationally study how different micropatterning geometries can affect myoblast behavior in the early stage of in vitro myogenesis. Soft hydrogels with physiological elastic modulus (E = 15 kPa) were micropatterned in parallel lanes (100, 300, and 500 μm width) resulting in different local and global myoblast densities. Proliferation and differentiation into multinucleated myotubes were evaluated for murine and human myoblasts. Wider lanes showed a decrease in murine myoblast proliferation: (69 ± 8)% in 100 μm wide lanes compared to (39 ± 7)% in 500 μm lanes. Conversely, fusion index increased in wider lanes: from (46 ± 7)% to (66 ± 7)% for murine myoblasts, and from (15 ± 3)% to (36 ± 2)% for human primary myoblasts, using a patterning width of 100 and 500 μm, respectively. These results are consistent with both computational modeling data and conditioned medium experiments, which demonstrated that wider lanes favor the accumulation of endogenous secreted factors. Interestingly, human primary myoblast proliferation is not affected by patterning width, which may be because the high serum content of their culture medium overrides the effect of secreted factors. These data highlight the role of micropatterning in shaping the cellular niche through secreted factor accumulation, and are of paramount importance in rationally understanding myogenesis in vitro for the correct design of in vitro skeletal muscle models.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cell Culture Techniques / methods*
  • Cell Differentiation
  • Cell Proliferation
  • Cells, Cultured
  • Computer Simulation
  • Humans
  • Hydrogels / chemistry*
  • Mice
  • Microarray Analysis / methods*
  • Myoblasts / cytology*


  • Hydrogels