Automated analysis of contractile force and Ca2+ transients in engineered heart tissue

Andrea Stoehr, Christiane Neuber, Christina Baldauf, Ingra Vollert, Felix W. Friedrich, Frederik Flenner, Lucie Carrier, Alexandra Eder, Sebastian Schaaf, Marc N. Hirt, Bülent Aksehirlioglu, Carl W. Tong, Alessandra Moretti, Thomas Eschenhagen, Arne Hansen

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71 Scopus citations


Contraction and relaxation are fundamental aspects of cardiomyocyte functional biology. They reflect the response of the contractile machinery to the systolic increase and diastolic decrease of the cytoplasmic Ca2+ concentration. The analysis of contractile function and Ca2+ transients is therefore important to discriminate between myofilament responsiveness and changes in Ca2+ homeostasis. This article describes an automated technology to perform sequential analysis of contractile force and Ca2+ transients in up to 11 strip-format, fibrin-based rat, mouse, and human fura-2-loaded engineered heart tissues (EHTs) under perfusion and electrical stimulation. Measurements in EHTs under increasing concentrations of extracellular Ca2+ and responses to isoprenaline and carbachol demonstrate that EHTs recapitulate basic principles of heart tissue functional biology. Ca2+ concentration-response curves in rat, mouse, and human EHTs indicated different maximal twitch forces (0.22, 0.05, and 0.08 mN in rat, mouse, and human, respectively; P < 0.001) and different sensitivity to external Ca2+ (EC50: 0.15, 0.39, and 1.05 mM Ca2+ in rat, mouse, and human, respectively; P < 0.001) in the three groups. In contrast, no difference in myofilament Ca2+ sensitivity was detected between skinned rat and human EHTs, suggesting that the difference in sensitivity to external Ca2+ concentration is due to changes in Ca2+ handling proteins. Finally, this study confirms that fura-2 has Ca2+ buffering effects and is thereby changing the force response to extracellular Ca2+.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)H1353-H1363
JournalAmerican Journal of Physiology - Heart and Circulatory Physiology
Issue number9
StatePublished - 1 May 2014
Externally publishedYes


  • Cardiac tissue engineering
  • Contractile analysis
  • hiPSC


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