To engineer tissue-like structures, cells must organize themselves into three-dimensional (3D) networks that mimic the native tissue microarchitecture. Microfabricated hydrogel substrates provide a potentially useful platform for directing cells into biomimetic tissue architecture in vitro. Here, we present microgrooved methacrylated gelatin hydrogels as a suitable platform to build muscle-like fibrous structures in a facile and highly reproducible fashion. Microgrooved hydrogel substrates with two different ridge sizes (50 and 100μm) were fabricated to assess the effect of the distance between engineered myofibers on the orientation of the bridging C2C12 myoblasts and the formation of the resulting multinucleated myotubes. It was shown that although the ridge size did not significantly affect the C2C12 myoblast alignment, the wider-ridged micropatterned hydrogels generated more myotubes that were not aligned to the groove direction as compared to those on the smaller-ridge micropatterns. We also demonstrated that electrical stimulation improved the myoblast alignment and increased the diameter of the resulting myotubes. By using the microstructured methacrylated gelatin substrates, we built free-standing 3D muscle sheets, which contracted when electrically stimulated. Given their robust contractility and biomimetic microarchitecture, engineered tissues may find use in tissue engineering, biological studies, high-throughput drug screening, and biorobotics.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Biomedical Engineering