We developed a high-throughput screening assay that allows for relative comparison of the twitch force of millimeter-scale gel-based cardiac tissues. This assay is based on principles taken from traction force microscopy and uses fluorescent microspheres embedded in a soft polydimethylsiloxane (PDMS) substrate. A gel-forming cell suspension is simply pipetted onto the PDMS to form hemispherical cardiac tissue samples. Recordings of the fluorescent bead movement during tissue pacing are used to determine the maximum distance that the tissue can displace the elastic PDMS substrate. In this study, fibrin gel hemispheres containing human induced pluripotent stem cell-derived cardiomyocytes were formed on the PDMS and allowed to culture for 9 days. Bead displacement values were measured and compared to direct force measurements to validate the utility of the system. The amplitude of bead displacement correlated with direct force measurements, and the twitch force generated by the tissues was the same in 2 and 4 mg/mL fibrin gels, even though the 2 mg/mL samples visually appear more contractile if the assessment were made on free-floating samples. These results demonstrate the usefulness of this assay as a screening tool that allows for rapid sample preparation, data collection, and analysis in a simple and cost-effective platform.
Bibliographical noteFunding Information:
The authors thank Dr. Patrick Alford for the use of fabrication and live cell imaging equipment and Susan Saunders for technical assistance. This study was funded by the National Institutes of Health award R01 HL108670 (R.T.T.).
© Copyright 2016, Mary Ann Liebert, Inc.