Human Induced Pluripotent Stem Cell Encapsulation Geometry Impacts Three-Dimensional Developing Human Engineered Cardiac Tissue Functionality

Morgan E. Ellis, Bryana N. Harris, Mohammadjafar Hashemi, B. Justin Harvell, Michaela Z. Bush, Emma E. Hicks, Ferdous B. Finklea, Eric M. Wang, Ravikiran Nataraj, Nathan P. Young, Irene C. Turnbull, Elizabeth A. Lipke

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Cardiac tissue engineering has been working to alleviate the immense burden of cardiovascular disease for several decades. To improve cardiac tissue homogeneity and cardiomyocyte (CM) maturation, in this study, we investigated altering initial encapsulation geometry in a three-dimensional (3D) direct cardiac differentiation platform. Traditional engineered cardiac tissue production utilizes predifferentiated CMs to produce 3D cardiac tissue and often involves various cell selection and exogenous stimulation methods to promote CM maturation. Starting tissue formation directly with human induced pluripotent stem cells (hiPSCs), rather than predifferentiated CMs, simplifies the engineered cardiac tissue formation process, making it more applicable for widespread implementation and scale-up. In this study, hiPSCs were encapsulated in poly (ethylene glycol)-fibrinogen in three tissue geometries (disc-shaped microislands, squares, and rectangles) and subjected to established cardiac differentiation protocols. Resulting 3D engineered cardiac tissues (3D-ECTs) from each geometry displayed similar CM populations (∼65%) and gene expression over time. Notably, rectangular tissues displayed less tissue heterogeneity and suggested more advanced features of maturing CMs, including myofibrillar alignment and Z-line formation. In addition, rectangular tissue showed significantly higher anisotropic contractile properties compared to square and microisland tissues (MI 0.28 ± 0.03, SQ 0.35 ± 0.05, RT 0.79 ± 0.04). This study demonstrates a straightforward method for simplifying and improving 3D-ECT production without the use of exogenous mechanical or electrical pacing and has the potential to be utilized in bioprinting and drug testing applications. Current methods for improving cardiac maturation postdifferentiation remain tedious and complex. In this study, we examined the impact of initial encapsulation geometry on improvement of three-dimensional engineered cardiac tissue (3D-ECT) production and postdifferentiation maturation for three tissue geometries, including disc-shaped microislands, squares, and rectangles. Notably, rectangular 3D-ECTs displayed less tissue heterogeneity and more advanced features of maturing cardiomyocytes, including myofibrillar alignment, Z-line formation, and anisotropic contractile properties, compared to microisland and square tissues. This study demonstrates an initial human induced pluripotent stem cell-encapsulated rectangular tissue geometry can improve cardiac maturation, rather than implementing cell selection or tedious postdifferentiation manipulation, including exogenous mechanical and/or electrical pacing.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)990-1000
Number of pages11
JournalTissue Engineering - Part A.
Issue number23-24
StatePublished - 1 Dec 2022


  • cardiac differentiation
  • engineered heart tissue
  • human induced pluripotent stem cells
  • tissue geometry


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