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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Glial cells influence cardiac permittivity as evidenced through in vitro and in silico models.

  • Author(s): Soucy, Jonathan R
  • Askaryan, Jody
  • Diaz, David
  • Koppes, Abigail N
  • Annabi, Nasim
  • Koppes, Ryan A
  • et al.

Excitation-contraction (EC) coupling in the heart has, until recently, been solely accredited to cardiomyocytes. The inherent complexities of the heart make it difficult to examine non-muscle contributions to contraction in vivo, and conventional in vitro models fail to capture multiple features and cellular heterogeneity of the myocardium. Here, we report on the development of a 3D cardiac μTissue to investigate changes in the cellular composition of native myocardium in vitro. Cells are encapsulated within micropatterned gelatin-based hydrogels formed via visible light photocrosslinking. This system enables spatial control of the microarchitecture, perturbation of the cellular composition, and functional measures of EC coupling via video microscopy and a custom algorithm to quantify beat frequency and degree of coordination. To demonstrate the robustness of these tools and evaluate the impact of altered cell population densities on cardiac μTissues, contractility and cell morphology were assessed with the inclusion of exogenous non-myelinating Schwann cells (SCs). Results demonstrate that the addition of exogenous SCs alter cardiomyocyte EC, profoundly inhibiting the response to electrical pacing. Computational modeling of connexin-mediated coupling suggests that SCs impact cardiomyocyte resting potential and rectification following depolarization. Cardiac μTissues hold potential for examining the role of cellular heterogeneity in heart health, pathologies, and cellular therapies.

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