Engineered skeletal muscle tissue networks with controllable architecture.
The engineering of functional skeletal muscle tissue substitutes holds promise for the treatment of various muscular diseases and injuries. However, no tissue fabrication technology currently exists for the generation of a relatively large and thick bioartificial muscle made of densely packed, uniformly aligned, and differentiated myofibers. In this study, we describe a versatile cell/hydrogel micromolding approach where polydimethylsiloxane (PDMS) molds containing an array of elongated posts were used to fabricate relatively large neonatal rat skeletal muscle tissue networks with reproducible and controllable architecture. By combining cell-mediated fibrin gel compaction and precise microfabrication of mold dimensions including the length and height of the PDMS posts, we were able to simultaneously support high cell viability, guide cell alignment along the microfabricated tissue pores, and reproducibly control the overall tissue porosity, size, and thickness. The interconnected muscle bundles within the porous tissue networks were composed of densely packed, aligned, and highly differentiated myofibers. The formed myofibers expressed myogenin, developed abundant cross-striations, and generated spontaneous tissue contractions at the macroscopic spatial scale. The proliferation of non-muscle cells was significantly reduced compared to monolayer cultures. The more complex muscle tissue architectures were fabricated by controlling the spatial distribution and direction of the PDMS posts.
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