Stem cell-derived cardiomyocytes have the potential to be used to study heart disease and maturation, screen drug treatments, and restore heart function. Here, we discuss the procedures involved in using micropost arrays to measure the contractile forces generated by stem cell-derived cardiomyocytes. Cardiomyocyte contractility is needed for the heart to pump blood, so measuring the contractile forces of cardiomyocytes is a straightforward way to assess their function. Microfabrication and soft lithography techniques are utilized to create identical arrays of flexible, silicone microposts from a common master. Micropost arrays are functionalized with extracellular matrix protein to allow cardiomyocytes to adhere to the tips of the microposts. Live imaging is used to capture videos of the deflection of microposts caused by the contraction of the cardiomyocytes. Image analysis code provides an accurate means to quantify these deflections. The contractile forces produced by a beating cardiomyocyte are calculated by modeling the microposts as cantilever beams. We have used this assay to assess techniques for improving the maturation and contractile function of stem cell-derived cardiomyocytes.
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