Cardiac muscle cell-based actuator and self-stabilizing biorobot - Part 2

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In recent years, hybrid devices that consist of a living cell or tissue component integrated with a synthetic mechanical backbone have been developed. These devices, called biorobots, are powered solely by the force generated from the contractile activity of the living component and, due to their many inherent advantages, could be an alternative to conventional fully artificial robots. Here, we describe the methods to seed and characterize a biological actuator and a biorobot that was designed, fabricated, and functionalized in the first part of this twopart article. Fabricated biological actuator and biorobot devices composed of a polydimethylsiloxane (PDMS) base and a thin film cantilever were functionalized for cell attachment with fibronectin. Following functionalization, neonatal rat cardiomyocytes were seeded onto the PDMS cantilever arm at a high density, resulting in a confluent cell sheet. The devices were imaged every day and the movement of the cantilever arms was analyzed. On the second day after seeding, we observed the bending of the cantilever arms due to the forces exerted by the cells during spontaneous contractions. Upon quantitative analysis of the cantilever bending, a gradual increase in the surface stress exerted by the cells as they matured over time was observed. Likewise, we observed movement of the biorobot due to the actuation of the PDMS cantilever arm, which acted as a fin. Upon quantification of the swimming profiles of the devices, various propulsion modes were observed, which were influenced by the resting angle of the fin. The direction of motion and the beating frequency were also determined by the resting angle of the fin, and a maximum swim velocity of 142 µm/s was observed. In this manuscript, we describe the procedure for populating the fabricated devices with cardiomyocytes, as well as for the assessment of the biological actuator and biorobot activity.

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Journal of Visualized Experiments

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