The success of skeletal muscle reconstruction depends on finding the most effective, clinically suitable strategy to engineer myogenic cells and biocompatible scaffolds. Satellite cells (SCs), freshly isolated or transplanted within their niche, are presently considered the best source for muscle regeneration. Here, we designed and developed the delivery of either SCs or muscle progenitor cells (MPCs) via an in situ photo-cross-linkable hyaluronan-based hydrogel, hyaluronic acid-photoinitiator (HA-PI) complex. Partially ablated tibialis anterior (TA) of C57BL/6J mice engrafted with freshly isolated satellite cells embedded in hydrogel showed a major improvement in muscle structure and number of new myofibers, compared to muscles receiving hydrogel + MPCs or hydrogel alone. Notably, SCs embedded in HA-PI also promoted functional recovery, as assessed by contractile force measurements. Tissue reconstruction was associated with the formation of both neural and vascular networks and the reconstitution of a functional SC niche. This innovative approach could overcome previous limitations in skeletal muscle tissue engineering.
Exogenous electric fields have been implied in cardiac differentiation of mouse embryonic stem cells and the generation of reactive oxygen species (ROS). In this work, we explored the effects of electrical field stimulation on ROS generation and cardiogenesis in embryoid bodies (EBs) derived from human embryonic stem cells (hESC, line H13), using a custom-built electrical stimulation bioreactor. Electrical properties of the bioreactor system were characterized by electrochemical impedance spectroscopy (EIS) and analysis of electrical currents. The effects of the electrode material (stainless steel, titanium-nitride-coated titanium, titanium), length of stimulus (1 and 90 s) and age of EBs at the onset of electrical stimulation (4 and 8 days) were investigated with respect to ROS generation. The amplitude of the applied electrical field was 1 V/mm. The highest rate of ROS generation was observed for stainless steel electrodes, for signal duration of 90 s and for 4-day-old EBs. Notably, comparable ROS generation was achieved by incubation of EBs with 1 nM H(2)O(2). Cardiac differentiation in these EBs was evidenced by spontaneous contractions, expression of troponin T and its sarcomeric organization. These results imply that electrical stimulation plays a role in cardiac differentiation of hESCs, through mechanisms associated with the intracellular generation of ROS.
We discuss the utilization of micro-bioreactor arrays for controlling cellular environments in studies of factors that regulate the differentiation of human embryonic stem cells. To this end, we have designed a simple and practical system that couples a microfluidic platform with an array of micro-bioreactors, and has the size of a microscope slide [E. Figallo, C. Cannizzaro, S. Gerecht, J.A. Burdick, R. Langer, N. Elvassore, G. Vunjak-Novakovic, Lab Chip 7 (2007) 710-719]. The system allows quantitative studies of cells cultured in monolayers or encapsulated in three-dimensional hydrogels. We review the operating requirements for studies of human embryonic stem cells (hESCs) under steady-state and dynamic conditions, and the related control of the mass transport and hydrodynamic shear. We describe the design and fabrication of the individual bioreactor components, and the criteria for selecting the bioreactor configuration and operating parameters, based on the analysis of the characteristic times and scales of reaction, convection and diffusion. To illustrate the utility of the bioreactor, we present a "case study" of hESC cultivation with detailed experimental methods and representative biological readouts.
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