Long-term functional and structural preservation of precision-cut human myocardium under continuous electromechanical stimulation in vitro
In vitro models incorporating the complexity and function of adult human tissues are highly desired for translational research. Whilst vital slices of human myocardium approach these demands, their rapid degeneration in tissue culture precludes long-term experimentation. Here, we report preservation of structure and performance of human myocardium under conditions of physiological preload, compliance, and continuous excitation. In biomimetic culture, tissue slices prepared from explanted failing human hearts attain a stable state of contractility that can be monitored for up to 4 months or 2000000 beats in vitro. Cultured myocardium undergoes particular alterations in biomechanics, structure, and mRNA expression. The suitability of the model for drug safety evaluation is exemplified by repeated assessment of refractory period that permits sensitive analysis of repolarization impairment induced by the multimodal hERG-inhibitor pentamidine. Biomimetic tissue culture will provide new opportunities to study drug targets, gene functions, and cellular plasticity in adult human myocardium.