Insuficiencia Cardiaca y Regeneración Cardiaca (ICREC) Research Program, Health Science Research Institute Germans Trias i Pujol; Amsterdam Universitair Medisch Centrum (UMC), Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam, Pulmonology and Physiology, Amsterdam Cardiovascular Sciences; [Email]
Cardiovascular diseases are the leading cause of death in developed countries. Consequently, the demand for effective cardiac cell therapies has motivated researchers in the stem cell and bioengineering fields to develop in vitro high-fidelity human myocardium for both basic research and clinical applications. However, the immature phenotype of cardiac cells is a limitation on obtaining tissues that functionally mimic the adult myocardium, which is mainly characterized by mechanical and electrical signals. Thus, the purpose of this protocol is to prepare and mature the target cell population through electromechanical stimulation, recapitulating physiological parameters. Cardiac tissue engineering is evolving toward more biological approaches, and strategies based on biophysical stimuli, thus, are gaining momentum. The device developed for this purpose is unique and allows individual or simultaneous electrical and mechanical stimulation, carefully characterized and validated. In addition, although the methodology has been optimized for this stimulator and a specific cell population, it can easily be adapted to other devices and cell lines. The results here offer evidence of the increased cardiac commitment of the cell population after electromechanical stimulation. Electromechanically stimulated cells show an increased expression of main cardiac markers, including early, structural, and calcium-regulating genes. This cell conditioning could be useful for further regenerative cell therapy, disease modeling, and high-throughput drug screening.