Biohybrid thin films for measuring contractility in engineered cardiovascular muscle

Patrick W. Alford, Adam W. Feinberg, Sean P. Sheehy, Kevin K. Parker

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

145 Scopus citations


In vitro cardiovascular disease models need to recapitulate tissue-scale function in order to provide in vivo relevance. We have developed a new method for measuring the contractility of engineered cardiovascular smooth and striated muscle in vitro during electrical and pharmacological stimulation. We present a growth theory-based finite elasticity analysis for calculating the contractile stresses of a 2D anisotropic muscle tissue cultured on a flexible synthetic polymer thin film. Cardiac muscle engineered with neonatal rat ventricular myocytes and paced at 0.5 Hz generated stresses of 9.2 ± 3.5 kPa at peak systole, similar to measurements of the contractility of papillary muscle from adult rats. Vascular tissue engineered with human umbilical arterial smooth muscle cells maintained a basal contractile tone of 13.1 ± 2.1 kPa and generated another 5.1 ± 0.8 kPa when stimulated with endothelin-1. These data suggest that this method may be useful in assessing the efficacy and safety of pharmacological agents on cardiovascular tissue.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)3613-3621
Number of pages9
Issue number13
StatePublished - May 2010

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
We acknowledge financial support from the DARPA Biomolecular Motors Program and PREVENT program , NIH R01HL079126-01A2 , and the Harvard Materials Research Science and Engineering Center (MRSEC) .


  • Cardiac tissue engineering
  • Cardiomyocyte
  • Mechanical properties
  • Smooth muscle cell
  • Soft tissue biomechanics
  • tissue biomechanics


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