Cited 79 times since 2008 (6.2 per year) source: EuropePMC Circulation research, Volume 103, Issue 2, 12 June 2008, Pages 167-176 Forced alignment of mesenchymal stem cells undergoing cardiomyogenic differentiation affects functional integration with cardiomyocyte cultures. Pijnappels DA, Schalij MJ, Ramkisoensing AA, van Tuyn J, de Vries AA, van der Laarse A, Ypey DL, Atsma DE
Alignment of cardiomyocytes (CMCs) contributes to the anisotropic (direction-related) tissue structure of the heart, thereby facilitating efficient electrical and mechanical activation of the ventricles. This study aimed to investigate the effects of forced alignment of stem cells during cardiomyogenic differentiation on their functional integration with CMC cultures. Labeled neonatal rat (nr) mesenchymal stem cells (nrMSCs) were allowed to differentiate into functional heart muscle cells in different cell-alignment patterns during 10 days of coculture with nrCMCs. Development of functional cellular properties was assessed by measuring impulse transmission across these stem cells between 2 adjacent nrCMC fields, cultured onto microelectrode arrays and previously separated by a laser-dissected channel (230+/-10 microm) for nrMSC transplantation. Coatings in these channels were microabraded in a direction (1) parallel or (2) perpendicular to the channel or were (3) left unabraded to establish different cell patterns. Application of cells onto microabraded coatings resulted in anisotropic cell alignment within the channel. Application on unabraded coatings resulted in isotropic (random) alignment. After coculture, conduction across seeded nrMSCs occurred from day 1 (perpendicular and isotropic) or day 6 (parallel) onward. Conduction velocity across nrMSCs at day 10 was highest in the perpendicular (11+/-0.9 cm/sec; n=12), intermediate in the isotropic (7.1+/-1 cm/sec; n=11) and lowest in the parallel configuration (4.9+/-1 cm/sec; n=11) (P<0.01). nrCMCs and fibroblasts served as positive and negative control, respectively. Also, immunocytochemical analysis showed alignment-dependent increases in connexin 43 expression. In conclusion, forced alignment of nrMSCs undergoing cardiomyogenic differentiation affects the time course and degree of functional integration with surrounding cardiac tissue.