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Stimuli-responsive liquid crystal elastomers for dynamic cell culture

  • Aditya Agrawal (a1), Oluwatomiyin Adetiba (a2), Hojin Kim (a3), Huiying Chen (a4), Jeffrey G. Jacot (a5) and Rafael Verduzco (a6)...

Responsive, biocompatible substrates are of interest for directing the maturation and function of cells in vitro during cell culture. This can potentially provide cells and tissues with desirable properties for regenerative therapies. Here, we demonstrate a straightforward and scalable approach to attach, align, and dynamically load cardiomyocytes on responsive liquid crystal elastomer (LCE) substrates. Monodomain LCEs exhibit reversible shape changes in response to cyclic heating, and when immersed in an aqueous medium on top of resistive heaters, shape changes are fast, reversible, and produce minimal temperature changes in the surroundings. We systematically characterized the strain response of LCEs in water and demonstrated the attachment and alignment of neonatal rat ventricular myocytes on LCE substrates. Cardiomyocytes attached to both static and stimulated LCE substrates, and under cyclic stimulation, cardiomyocytes aligned along the primary direction of strain. This work demonstrates the potential of LCEs as stimuli-responsive substrates for dynamic cell culture.

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