The relatively recent development of microfluidic systems with wide-ranging capabilities for generating realistic 2D or 3D systems with single or multiple cell types has given rise to an extensive collection of platform technologies useful in muscle tissue engineering. These new systems are aimed at (i) gaining fundamental understanding of muscle function, (ii) creating functional muscle constructs in vitro, and (iii) utilizing these constructs a variety of applications. Use of microfluidics to control the various stimuli that promote differentiation of multipotent cells into cardiac or skeletal muscle is first discussed. Next, systems that incorporate muscle cells to produce either 2D sheets or 3D tissues of contractile muscle are described with an emphasis on the more recent 3D platforms. These systems are useful for fundamental studies of muscle biology and can also be incorporated into drug screening assays. Applications are discussed for muscle actuators in the context of microrobotics and in miniaturized biological pumps. Finally, an important area of recent study involves coculture with cell types that either activate muscle or facilitate its function. Limitations of current designs and the potential for improving functionality for a wider range of applications is also discussed, with a look toward using current understanding and capabilities to design systems of greater realism, complexity and functionality.
Keywords: Microfluidics and microfabrication; Muscle tissue engineering; Skeletal, cardiac muscle cells.
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