Mitochondrial Function in Engineered Cardiac Tissues is Regulated by Extracellular Matrix Elasticity and Tissue Alignment


Mitochondria in cardiac myocytes are critical for generating ATP to meet the high metabolic demands associated with sarcomere shortening. Distinct remodeling of mitochondrial structure and function occur in cardiac myocytes in both developmental and pathological settings. However, the factors that underlie these changes are poorly understood. Because remodeling of tissue architecture and extracellular matrix (ECM) elasticity are also hallmarks of ventricular development and disease, we hypothesize that these environmental factors regulate mitochondrial function in cardiac myocytes. To test this, we developed a new procedure to transfer tunable polydimethylsiloxane disks microcontact-printed with fibronectin into cell culture microplates. We cultured Sprague-Dawley neonatal rat ventricular myocytes within the wells, which consistently formed tissues following the printed fibronectin, and measured oxygen consumption rate using a Seahorse extracellular flux analyzer. Our data indicate that parameters associated with baseline metabolism are predominantly regulated by ECM elasticity, whereas the ability of tissues to adapt to metabolic stress is regulated by both ECM elasticity and tissue alignment. Furthermore, bioenergetic health index, which reflects both the positive and negative aspects of oxygen consumption, was highest in aligned tissues on the most rigid substrate, suggesting that overall mitochondrial function is regulated by both ECM elasticity and tissue alignment. Our results demonstrate that mitochondrial function is regulated by both ECM elasticity and myofibril architecture in cardiac myocytes. This provides novel insight into how extracellular cues impact mitochondrial function in the context of cardiac development and disease.

In American Journal of Physiology – Heart and Circulatory Physiology.