Cardiac fibrosis refers to the abnormal accumulation of extracellular matrix within the cardiac muscle, leading to increased stiffness and impaired heart function. From a rheological standpoint, knowledge about myocardial behavior is still lacking, partially due to a lack of appropriate techniques to investigate the rheology of in vitro cardiac tissue models. 3D multicellular cardiac spheroids are powerful and versatile platforms for modeling healthy and fibrotic cardiac tissue in vitro and studying how their mechanical properties are modulated. In this study, cardiac spheroids were created by co-culturing neonatal rat ventricular cardiomyocytes and fibroblasts in definite ratios using the hanging-drop method. The rheological characterization of such models was performed by Atomic Force Microscopy-based stress-relaxation measurements on the whole spheroid. After strain application, a viscoelastic bi-exponential relaxation was observed, characterized by a fast relaxation time (τ1) followed by a slower one (τ2). In particular, spheroids with higher fibroblasts density showed reduction for both relaxation times comparing to control, with a more pronounced decrement of τ1 with respect to τ2. Such response was found compatible with the increased production of extracellular matrix within these spheroids, which recapitulates the main feature of the fibrosis pathophysiology. These results demonstrate how the rheological characteristics of cardiac tissue vary as a function of cellular composition and extracellular matrix, confirming the suitability of such system as an in vitro preclinical model of cardiac fibrosis.

Investigations of cardiac fibrosis rheology by in vitro cardiac tissue modeling with 3D cellular spheroids

Zanetti, Michele
;
Braidotti, Nicoletta
;
Sbaizero, Orfeo;Mestroni, Luisa;Baj, Gabriele;Lazzarino, Marco;Andolfi, Laura
2024-01-01

Abstract

Cardiac fibrosis refers to the abnormal accumulation of extracellular matrix within the cardiac muscle, leading to increased stiffness and impaired heart function. From a rheological standpoint, knowledge about myocardial behavior is still lacking, partially due to a lack of appropriate techniques to investigate the rheology of in vitro cardiac tissue models. 3D multicellular cardiac spheroids are powerful and versatile platforms for modeling healthy and fibrotic cardiac tissue in vitro and studying how their mechanical properties are modulated. In this study, cardiac spheroids were created by co-culturing neonatal rat ventricular cardiomyocytes and fibroblasts in definite ratios using the hanging-drop method. The rheological characterization of such models was performed by Atomic Force Microscopy-based stress-relaxation measurements on the whole spheroid. After strain application, a viscoelastic bi-exponential relaxation was observed, characterized by a fast relaxation time (τ1) followed by a slower one (τ2). In particular, spheroids with higher fibroblasts density showed reduction for both relaxation times comparing to control, with a more pronounced decrement of τ1 with respect to τ2. Such response was found compatible with the increased production of extracellular matrix within these spheroids, which recapitulates the main feature of the fibrosis pathophysiology. These results demonstrate how the rheological characteristics of cardiac tissue vary as a function of cellular composition and extracellular matrix, confirming the suitability of such system as an in vitro preclinical model of cardiac fibrosis.
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Utilizza questo identificativo per citare o creare un link a questo documento: https://hdl.handle.net/11368/3074739
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