Santos GL, Meyer T, Tiburcy M, DeGrave A, Zimmermann WH, Lutz S
Journal of Visualized Experiments
J Vis Exp. 2021 Aug 20;(174).
Fibroblasts are phenotypically highly dynamic cells, which quickly transdifferentiate into myofibroblasts in response to biochemical and biomechanical stimuli. The current understanding of fibrotic processes, including cardiac fibrosis, remains poor, which hampers the development of new anti-fibrotic therapies. Controllable and reliable human model systems are crucial for a better understanding of fibrosis pathology. This is a highly reproducible and scalable protocol to generate engineered connective tissues (ECT) in a 48-well casting plate to facilitate studies of fibroblasts and the pathophysiology of fibrotic tissue in a 3-dimensional (3D) environment. ECT are generated around the poles with tunable stiffness, allowing for studies under a defined biomechanical load. Under the defined loading conditions, phenotypic adaptations controlled by cell-matrix interactions can be studied. Parallel testing is feasible in the 48-well format with the opportunity for the time-course analysis of multiple parameters, such as tissue compaction and contraction against the load. From these parameters, biomechanical properties such as tissue stiffness and elasticity can be studied.