Practical Aspects of Cardiac Tissue Engineering With Electrical Stimulation

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Summary

Heart disease is a leading cause of death in western society. Despite the success of heart transplantation, a chronic shortage of donor organs, along with the associated immunological complications of this approach, demands that alternative treatments be found. One such option is to repair, rather than replace, the heart with engineered cardiac tissue. Multiple studies have shown that to attain functional tissue, assembly signaling cues must be recapitulated in vitro. In their native environment, cardiomyocytes are directed to beat in synchrony by propagation of pacing current through the tissue. Recently, we have shown that electrical stimulation directs neonatal cardiomyocytes to assemble into native-like tissue in vitro. This chapter provides detailed methods we have employed in taking this “biomimetic” approach. After an initial discussion on how electric field stimulation can influence cell behavior, we examine the practical aspects of cardiac tissue engineering with electrical stimulation, such as electrode selection and cell seeding protocols, and conclude with what we feel are the remaining challenges to be overcome.