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In JoVE (1)
Other Publications (4)
Articles by Wesley R. Legant in JoVE
Microfabricated Post-Array-Detectors (mPADs): an Approach to Isolate Mechanical Forces
Ravi A. Desai1, Michael T. Yang1, Nathan J. Sniadecki2, Wesley R. Legant1, Christopher S. Chen1
1Department of Bioengineering, University of Pennsylvania, 2University of Washington
In this video, we demonstrate how to fabricate and utilize microfabricated post array detectors (mPADs) to assess modulations of cellular contractility.
Other articles by Wesley R. Legant on PubMed
Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America. Jun, 2009 | Pubmed ID: 19541627
Physical forces generated by cells drive morphologic changes during development and can feedback to regulate cellular phenotypes. Because these phenomena typically occur within a 3-dimensional (3D) matrix in vivo, we used microelectromechanical systems (MEMS) technology to generate arrays of microtissues consisting of cells encapsulated within 3D micropatterned matrices. Microcantilevers were used to simultaneously constrain the remodeling of a collagen gel and to report forces generated during this process. By concurrently measuring forces and observing matrix remodeling at cellular length scales, we report an initial correlation and later decoupling between cellular contractile forces and changes in tissue morphology. Independently varying the mechanical stiffness of the cantilevers and collagen matrix revealed that cellular forces increased with boundary or matrix rigidity whereas levels of cytoskeletal and extracellular matrix (ECM) proteins correlated with levels of mechanical stress. By mapping these relationships between cellular and matrix mechanics, cellular forces, and protein expression onto a bio-chemo-mechanical model of microtissue contractility, we demonstrate how intratissue gradients of mechanical stress can emerge from collective cellular contractility and finally, how such gradients can be used to engineer protein composition and organization within a 3D tissue. Together, these findings highlight a complex and dynamic relationship between cellular forces, ECM remodeling, and cellular phenotype and describe a system to study and apply this relationship within engineered 3D microtissues.
Biomaterials. May, 2010 | Pubmed ID: 20138664
Synthetic hydrogels based on poly(ethylene glycol) (PEG) have been used as biomaterials for cell biology and tissue engineering investigations. Bioactive PEG-based gels have largely relied on heterobifunctional or multi-arm PEG precursors that can be difficult to synthesize and characterize or expensive to obtain. Here, we report an alternative strategy, which instead uses inexpensive and readily available PEG precursors to simplify reactant sourcing. This new approach provides a robust system in which to probe cellular interactions with the microenvironment. We used the step-growth polymerization of PEG diacrylate (PEGDA, 3400Da) with bis-cysteine matrix metalloproteinase (MMP)-sensitive peptides via Michael-type addition to form biodegradable photoactive macromers of the form acrylate-PEG-(peptide-PEG)(m)-acrylate. The molecular weight (MW) of these macromers is controlled by the stoichiometry of the reaction, with a high proportion of resultant macromer species greater than 500kDa. In addition, the polydispersity of these materials was nearly identical for three different MMP-sensitive peptide sequences subjected to the same reaction conditions. When photopolymerized into hydrogels, these high MW materials exhibit increased swelling and sensitivity to collagenase-mediated degradation as compared to previously published PEG hydrogel systems. Cell-adhesive acrylate-PEG-CGRGDS was synthesized similarly and its immobilization and stability in solid hydrogels was characterized with a modified Lowry assay. To illustrate the functional utility of this approach in a biological setting, we applied this system to develop materials that promote angiogenesis in an ex vivo aortic arch explant assay. We demonstrate the formation and invasion of new sprouts mediated by endothelial cells into the hydrogels from embedded embryonic chick aortic arches. Furthermore, we show that this capillary sprouting and three-dimensional migration of endothelial cells can be tuned by engineering the MMP-susceptibility of the hydrogels and the presence of functional immobilized adhesive ligands (CGRGDS vs. CGRGES peptide). The facile chemistry described and significant cellular responses observed suggest the usefulness of these materials in a variety of in vitro and ex vivo biologic investigations, and may aid in the design or refinement of material systems for a range of tissue engineering approaches.
Nature Methods. Dec, 2010 | Pubmed ID: 21076420
Quantitative measurements of cell-generated forces have heretofore required that cells be cultured on two-dimensional substrates. We describe a technique to quantitatively measure three-dimensional traction forces exerted by cells fully encapsulated in well-defined elastic hydrogel matrices. Using this approach we measured traction forces for several cell types in various contexts and revealed patterns of force generation attributable to morphologically distinct regions of cells as they extend into the surrounding matrix.
A Microfabricated Platform to Measure and Manipulate the Mechanics of Engineered Cardiac Microtissues
Tissue Engineering. Part A. Jan, 2012 | Pubmed ID: 22092279
Engineered myocardial tissues can be used to elucidate fundamental features of myocardial biology, develop organotypic in vitro model systems, and as engineered tissue constructs for replacing damaged heart tissue in vivo. However, a key limitation is an inability to test the wide range of parameters (cell source, mechanical, soluble and electrical stimuli) that might impact the engineered tissue in a high-throughput manner and in an environment that mimics native heart tissue. Here we used microelectromechanical systems technology to generate arrays of cardiac microtissues (CMTs) embedded within three-dimensional micropatterned matrices. Microcantilevers simultaneously constrain CMT contraction and report forces generated by the CMTs in real time. We demonstrate the ability to routinely produce ∼200 CMTs per million cardiac cells (<1 neonatal rat heart) whose spontaneous contraction frequency, duration, and forces can be tracked. Independently varying the mechanical stiffness of the cantilevers and collagen matrix revealed that both the dynamic force of cardiac contraction as well as the basal static tension within the CMT increased with boundary or matrix rigidity. Cell alignment is, however, reduced within a stiff collagen matrix; therefore, despite producing higher force, CMTs constructed from higher density collagen have a lower cross-sectional stress than those constructed from lower density collagen. We also study the effect of electrical stimulation on cell alignment and force generation within CMTs and we show that the combination of electrical stimulation and auxotonic load strongly improves both the structure and the function of the CMTs. Finally, we demonstrate the suitability of our technique for high-throughput monitoring of drug-induced changes in spontaneous frequency or contractility in CMTs as well as high-speed imaging of calcium dynamics using fluorescent dyes. Together, these results highlight the potential for this approach to quantitatively demonstrate the impact of physical parameters on the maturation, structure, and function of cardiac tissue and open the possibility to use high-throughput, low volume screening for studies on engineered myocardium.