Design and characterization of an electroconductive scaffold for cardiomyocytes based biomedical assays.

Materials science & engineering. C, Materials for biological applications (2020-04-02)
Melika Parchehbaf-Kashani, Mohammadmajid Sepantafar, Mahmood Talkhabi, Forough Azam Sayahpour, Hossein Baharvand, Sara Pahlavan, Sarah Rajabi

Cardiovascular diseases (CVD) are a major cause of mortality worldwide. Accessibility to heart tissue is limited due to sampling issues and lack of appropriate culture conditions. In addition, animal models are not an ideal choice for physiological, pharmacological, and fundamental evaluations in the cardiovascular field due to interspecies differences. Hence, there is an inevitable need for functional in vitro cardiac models. In this study, we have synthesized a novel electroconductive scaffold comprised of cardiac extracellular matrix (ECM) derived pre-cardiogel (pCG) blended with polypyrrole (Ppy). Our data revealed that 2.5% (w/v) pyrrole (Py) had the highest possible Py ratio that provided pCG-Ppy gel formation. The prepared mixture was fabricated into a scaffold by using the freeze-dried method. The scaffolds had open interconnected pores that ranged from 55 ± 24 μm for the cardiogel (CG)-Ppy to 74 ± 26 μm for the CG scaffolds, with no alterations in vital ECM components of collagen, polysaccharides, and glycosaminoglycans (GAGs). Incorporation of Ppy increased the CG stiffness with a final complex modulus from 80 pa to 140 pa. The CG-Ppy group had significantly greater electrical conductivity than the CG group. Scaffolds supported neonatal mouse cardiomyocyte (NMCM) adhesion, viability, cardiac-specific gene expression, and spontaneous beating up to 14 days after seeding. Among the fabricated hydrogels, the CG-Ppy group resulted in the synchronous beating of cardiomyocyte clusters and upregulation of cardiac genes involved in cardiac muscle contraction (cardiac troponin T [cTNT]) and cardiomyocyte electrical coupling (connexin 43 [Cx43]). Thus, this ECM-based electro-conductive scaffold might provide a promising substrate for constructing in vitro cardiac models for drug testing, disease modeling, developmental studies, and cardiac regenerative approaches.

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Monoclonal Anti-Connexin-43 antibody produced in mouse, clone CXN-6, ascites fluid
4′,6-Diamidino-2-phenylindole dihydrochloride, powder, BioReagent, suitable for cell culture, ≥98% (HPLC and TLC), suitable for fluorescence
Papain from papaya latex, buffered aqueous suspension, 2× Crystallized, ≥16 units/mg protein
Pyrrole, reagent grade, 98%