Maturation of three-dimensional, hiPSC-derived cardiomyocyte spheroids utilizing cyclic, uniaxial stretch and electrical stimulation

Academic Article


  • Functional myocardium derived from human induced pluripotent stem cells (hiPSCs) can be impactful for cardiac disease modeling, drug testing, and the repair of injured myocardium. However, when hiPSCs are differentiated into cardiomyocytes, they do not possess characteristics of mature myocytes which limits their application in these endeavors. We hypothesized that mechanical and electrical stimuli would enhance the maturation of hiPSC-derived cardiomyocyte (hiPSC-CM) spheroids on both a structural and functional level, potentially leading to a better model for drug testing as well as cell therapy. Spheroids were generated with hiPSC-CM. For inducing mechanical stimulation, they were placed in a custom-made device with PDMS channels and exposed to cyclic, uniaxial stretch. Spheroids were electrically stimulated in the C-Pace EP from IONOptix for 7 days. Following the stimulations, the spheroids were then analyzed for cardiomyocyte maturation. Both stimulated groups of spheroids possessed enhanced transcript and protein expressions for key maturation markers, such as cTnI, MLC2v, and MLC2a, along with improved ultrastructure of the hiPSC-CMs in both groups with enhanced Z-band/Z-body formation, fibril alignment, and fiber number. Optical mapping showed that spheroids exposed to electrical stimulation were able to capture signals at increasing rates of pacing up to 4 Hz, which failed in unstimulated spheroids. Our results clearly indicate that a significantly improved myocyte maturation can be achieved by culturing iPSC-CMs as spheroids and exposing them to cyclic, uniaxial stretch and electrical stimulation.
  • Published In

  • PLoS ONE  Journal
  • Digital Object Identifier (doi)

    Author List

  • LaBarge W; Mattappally S; Kannappan R; Fast VG; Pretorius D; Berry JL; Zhang J
  • Volume

  • 14
  • Issue

  • 7