In this study, human embryonic stem cell-derived cardiomyocytes were seeded onto controlled two-dimensional micropatterned features, and an improvement in sarcomere formation and cell alignment was observed in specific feature geometries. High-resolution photolithography techniques and microcontact printing were utilized to produce features of various rectangular geometries, with areas ranging from 2500 μm(2) to 160,000 μm(2). The microcontact printing method was used to pattern non-adherent poly(ethylene glycol) regions on gold coated glass slides. Matrigel and fibronectin extracellular matrix (ECM) proteins were layered onto the gold-coated glass slides, providing a controlled geometry for cell adhesion. We used small molecule-based differentiation and an antibiotic purification step to produce a pure population of immature cardiomyocytes from H9 human embryonic stem cells (hESCs). We then seeded this pure population of human cardiomyocytes onto the micropatterned features of various sizes and observed how the cardiomyocytes remodeled their myofilament structure in response to the feature geometries. Immunofluorescence was used to measure α-actinin expression, and phalloidin stains were used to detect actin presence in the patterned cells. Analysis of nuclear alignment was also used to determine how cell direction was influenced by the features. The seeded cells showed clear alignment with the features, dependent on the width rather than the overall aspect ratio of the features. It was determined that features with widths between 30 μm and 80 μm promoted highly aligned cardiomyocytes with a dramatic increase in sarcomere alignment relative to the long axis of the pattern. This creation of highly-aligned cell aggregates with robust sarcomere structures holds great potential in advancing cell-based pharmacological studies, and will help researchers to understand the means by which ECM geometries can affect myofilament structure and maturation in hESC-derived cardiomyocytes.
Keywords: Cardiac tissue engineering; Cardiomyocyte; Cell morphology; Micropatterning; Stem cell; Surface modification.
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