We have previously described a model to engineer three-dimensional (3-D) heart muscle in vitro. In the current study, we extend our model of 3-D heart muscle to engineer a functional cell-based cardiac pressure generating construct (CPGC). Tubular constructs were fabricated utilizing a phase separation method with chitosan as the scaffolding material. Primary cardiac cells isolated from rat hearts were plated on the surface of fibrin gels cast in 35 mm tissue culture dishes. CPGCs (N=8) were formed by anchoring the tubular constructs to the center of the plate with primary cardiac cells seeded in fibrin gels wrapped around the tubular constructs. Intraluminal pressure measurements were evaluated with and without external electrical stimulation and histological evaluation performed. The fibrin gel spontaneously compacted due to the traction force of the cardiac cells. By 14 d after original cell plating, the cardiac cells had completely formed a monolayer around the tubular construct resulting in the formation of a cell-based CPGC. The spontaneous contractility of the CPGC was macroscopically visible and resulted in intra-luminal pressure spikes of 0.08 mmHg. Upon electrical stimulation, the CPGCs generated twitch pressures of up to 0.05 mmHg. In addition, the CPGC constructs were electrically paced at frequencies of up to 3 Hz. Histological evaluation showed the presence of a continuous cell monolayer around the surface of the tubular construct. In this study, we describe a novel in vitro method to engineer functional cell-based CPGCs and demonstrate several physiological metrics of functional performance.
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Vol. 44 • No. 8