NanoMEA: A Versatile Platform for High-throughput Analysis of Structure-function Relationships in Human Stem Cell-derived Excitable Cells and Tissues

Alec S. T. Smith et al.

Deok-Ho Kim, University of Washington

Link To Paper

Abstract: Somatic cells derived from human pluripotent stem cell (hPSC) sources hold significant potential as a means to improve current in vitro screening assays. However, their inconsistent ability to recapitulate the structural and functional characteristics of native cells has raised questions regarding their ability to accurately predict the functional behavior of human tissues when exposed to chemical or pathological insults. In addition, the lack of cytoskeletal organization within conventional culture platforms prevents analysis of how structural changes in human tissues affect functional performance. Using cation-permeable hydrogels, we describe the production of multiwell nanotopographically-patterned microelectrode arrays (nanoMEAs) for studying the effect of structural organization on hPSC-derived cardiomyocyte and neuronal function in vitro. We demonstrate that nanoscale topographic substrate cues promote the development of more ordered cardiac and neuronal monolayers while simultaneously enhancing cytoskeletal organization, protein expression patterns, and electrophysiological function in these cells. We then show that these phenotypic improvements act to alter the sensitivity of hPSC-derived cardiomyocytes to treatment with arrhythmogenic and conduction-blocking compounds that target structural features of the cardiomyocyte. Similarly, we demonstrate that neuron sensitivity to synaptic blockers is increased when cells are maintained on nanotopographically-patterned Nafion surfaces. The improved structural and functional capacity of hPSC-derived cardiomyocyte and neuronal populations maintained on nanoMEAs may have important implications for improving the predictive capabilities of cell-based electrophysiological assays used in preclinical screening applications.

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Materials & Methods: Refer to paper.

Cell Type(s): Human Pluripotent Stem Cells, Cardiomyocytes, Neurons