Human cardiac fibrosis-on-a-chip model recapitulates disease hallmarks and can serve as a platform for drug testing

Biomaterials. 2020 Mar;233:119741. doi: 10.1016/j.biomaterials.2019.119741. Epub 2019 Dec 31.

Abstract

While interstitial fibrosis plays a significant role in heart failure, our understanding of disease progression in humans is limited. To address this limitation, we have engineered a cardiac-fibrosis-on-a-chip model consisting of a microfabricated device with live force measurement capabilities using co-cultured human cardiac fibroblasts and pluripotent stem cell-derived cardiomyocytes. Transforming growth factor-β was used as a trigger for fibrosis. Here, we have reproduced the classic hallmarks of fibrosis-induced heart failure including high collagen deposition, increased tissue stiffness, BNP secretion, and passive tension. Force of contraction was significantly decreased in fibrotic tissues that displayed a transcriptomic signature consistent with human cardiac fibrosis/heart failure. Treatment with an anti-fibrotic drug decreased tissue stiffness and BNP secretion, with corresponding changes in the transcriptomic signature. This model represents an accessible approach to study human heart failure in vitro, and allows for testing anti-fibrotic drugs while facilitating the real-time assessment of cardiomyocyte function.

Keywords: Cardiac fibrosis; Carvediolol; Disease modeling; Extracellular vesicles; Force of contraction; Heart failure; Human stem cell-derived cardiomyocytes; Losartan; Organ-on-a-chip; Pirfenidone; Tissue engineering; microRNA.