Development of a Cyclic Strain Bioreactor for Mechanical Enhancement and Assessment of Bioengineered Myocardial Constructs

Betsy H. Salazar, Avery T. Cashion, Robert G. Dennis, Ravi K. Birla

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

10 Scopus citations


The purpose of this study was to develop enabling bioreactor technologies using a novel voice coil actuator system for investigating the effects of periodic strain on cardiac patches fabricated with rat cardiomyocytes. The bioengineered muscle constructs used in this study were formed by culturing rat neonatal primary cardiac cells on a fibrin gel. The physical design of the bioreactor was initially conceived using Solidworks to test clearances and perform structural strain analysis. Once the software design phase was completed the bioreactor was assembled using a combination of commercially available, custom machined, and 3-D printed parts. We utilized the bioreactor to evaluate the effect of a 4-h stretch protocol on the contractile properties of the tissue after which immunohistological assessment of the tissue was also performed. An increase in contractile force was observed after the strain protocol of 10% stretch at 1 Hz, with no significant increase observed in the control group. Additionally, an increase in cardiac myofibril alignment, connexin 43 expression, and collagen type I distribution were noted. In this study we demonstrated the effectiveness of a new bioreactor design to improve contractility of engineered cardiac muscle tissue.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)533-545
Number of pages13
JournalCardiovascular Engineering and Technology
Issue number4
StatePublished - Dec 1 2015


  • Artificial heart muscle
  • Biomedical transducers
  • Bioreactors
  • Cardiac tissue engineering
  • Microcontrollers
  • Micropositioning voice-coil actuator
  • Printed circuits

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biomedical Engineering
  • Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine


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