Skeletal muscle tissue engineering aims at creating functional skeletal muscle in vitro. Human muscle organoids can be used for potential applications in regenerative medicine, but also as an in vitro model for myogenesis or myopathology. However, the thickness of constructs is limited due to passive diffusion of nutrients and oxygen. Introduction of a vascular network in vitro may solve this limitation. Here, we describe tissue engineering of in vitro skeletal muscle consisting of human aligned myofibers with interspersed endothelial networks. To create bio-artificial muscle (BAM), human muscle progenitor cells are cocultured with human umbilical vein endothelial cells (HUVECs) in a fibrin hydrogel. The cell-gel mix is cast into silicone molds with end attachment sites and cultured in endothelial growth medium (EGM-2) for 1 week. The passive forces generated in the contracted hydrogel align the myogenic cells parallel to the long axis of the contracted gel such that they fuse into aligned multinucleated myofibers. This results in the formation of a 2 cm long and ~1.5 mm tick human BAM construct with endothelial networks.
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This work was funded by AFM-Telethon trampoline grant 19802 and the Research Foundation-Flanders (FWO) grant 1529817N.
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