In this review, we discuss recent studies on the mechanosensitive morphology and function of cardiomyocytes derived from embryos and neonates. For early cardiomyocytes cultured on substrates of various stiffnesses, contractile function as measured by force production, work output and calcium handling is optimized when the culture substrate stiffness mimics that of the tissue from which the cells were obtained. This optimal contractile function corresponds to changes in sarcomeric protein conformation and organization that promote contractile ability. In light of current models for myofibillogenesis, a recent mathematical model of striation and alignment on elastic substrates helps to illuminate how substrate stiffness modulates early myofibril formation and organization. During embryonic heart formation and maturation, cardiac tissue mechanics change dynamically. Experiments and models highlighted here have important implications for understanding cardiomyocyte differentiation and function in development and perhaps in regeneration processes.
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Majkut, S.F., Discher, D.E. Cardiomyocytes from late embryos and neonates do optimal work and striate best on substrates with tissue-level elasticity: metrics and mathematics. Biomech Model Mechanobiol 11, 1219–1225 (2012). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10237-012-0413-8
- Substrate stiffness