Real-Time Measurement of the Contractile Forces of Self-Organized Cardiomyocytes on Hybrid Biopolymer Microcantilevers

We present a microfabricated hybrid biopolymer microcantilever, in which the contractile force of self-organized cardiomyocytes can be measured and studied, as a prototype for the development of cell-driven actuators. The microcantilever is made of a flexible, transparent, biocompatible poly(dimethylsiloxane) substrate, using a simple microfabrication technique. Seeding and culturing cardiomyocytes on the specific cantilever allows us to perform highly sensitive, quantitative, and noninvasive measurement of the contractile force of the self-organized cells in real time. The motions of the microcantilever showed good agreement with an analytical solution based on Stoney's equation and finite element modeling (FEM) of the hybrid system. Immunostaining of the cells on the hybrid system showed continuous high-order coalignment of actin filaments and parallel sarcomeric organization in the direction of the longitudinal axis of the microcantilever without structural constraints, such as microgrooves or lines, and proved our FEM and the synchronous contraction of cardiomyocytes. The presented device should facilitate measurement of the contractile force of self-organized cardiomyocytes on a specific area, which may help the understanding of heart failure and the design of optimal hybrid biopolymer actuators, as well as assist development of a microscale cell-driven motor system.