A contactless electrical stimulator: application to fabricate functional skeletal muscle tissue


Engineered skeletal muscle tissues are ideal candidates for applications in drug screening systems, bio-actuators, and as implantable constructs in tissue engineering. Electrical field stimulation considerably improves the differentiation of muscle cells to muscle myofibers. Currently used electrical stimulators often use direct contact of electrodes with tissue constructs or their culture medium, which may cause hydrolysis of the culture medium, joule heating of the medium, contamination of the culture medium due to products of electrodes corrosion, and surface fouling of electrodes. Here, we used an interdigitated array of electrodes combined with an isolator coverslip as a contactless platform to electrically stimulate engineered muscle tissue, which eliminates the aforementioned problems. The effective stimulation of muscle myofibers using this device was demonstrated in terms of contractile activity and higher maturation as compared to muscle tissues without applying the electrical field. Due to the wide array of potential applications of electrical stimulation to two- and three-dimensional (2D and 3D) cell and tissue constructs, this device could be of great interest for a variety of biological applications as a tool to create noninvasive, safe, and highly reproducible electric fields.

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S.A. conceived the idea. S.A. and J.R. designed the research. S.A., J.R., H.K., H.S., A.K., and T.M. analyzed the results. S.A. wrote the paper. G.C-U. synthesized the GelMA hydrogel. S.A. and J.R. performed all other experiments. H.K., H.S., A.K., and T.M. supervised the research. All authors read the manuscript, commented on it, and approved its content. This work was supported by the World Premier International Research Center Initiative (WPI), MEXT, Japan.

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Correspondence to Ali Khademhosseini or Tomokazu Matsue.

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Samad Ahadian and Javier Ramón-Azcón contributed equally to this work.

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Ahadian, S., Ramón-Azcón, J., Ostrovidov, S. et al. A contactless electrical stimulator: application to fabricate functional skeletal muscle tissue. Biomed Microdevices 15, 109–115 (2013).

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  • Skeletal muscle tissue engineering
  • Contactless electrical stimulation
  • C2C12 myoblasts
  • Gelatin methacrylate (GelMA) hydrogel