Differentiation of embryonic stem cells into cardiomyocytes in a compliant microfluidic system

Chen Rei Wan, Seok Chung, Roger D. Kamm

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

73 Citations (Scopus)


The differentiation process of murine embryonic stem cells into cardiomyocytes was investigated with a compliant microfluidic platform which allows for versatile cell seeding arrangements, optical observation access, long-term cell viability, and programmable uniaxial cyclic stretch. Specifically, two environmental cues were examined with this platform-culture dimensions and uniaxial cyclic stretch. First, the cardiomyogenic differentiation process, assessed by a GFP reporter driven by the α-MHC promoter, was enhanced in microfluidic devices (μFDs) compared with conventional well-plates. The addition of BMP-2 neutralizing antibody reduced the enhancement observed in the μFDs and the addition of exogenous BMP-2 augmented the cardiomyogenic differentiation in well plates. Second, 24 h of uniaxial cyclic stretch at 1 Hz and 10% strain on day 9 of differentiation was found to have a negative impact on cardiomyogenic differentiation. This microfluidic platform builds upon an existing design and extends its capability to test cellular responses to mechanical strain. It provides capabilities not found in other systems for studying differentiation, such as seeding embryoid bodies in 2D or 3D in combination with cyclic strain. This study demonstrates that the microfluidic system contributes to enhanced cardiomyogenic differentiation and may be a superior platform compared with conventional well plates. In addition to studying the effect of cyclic stretch on cardiomyogenic differentiation, this compliant platform can also be applied to investigate other biological mechanisms.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1840-1847
Number of pages8
JournalAnnals of Biomedical Engineering
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 2011 Jun

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
The authors would like to acknowledge the contribution of Dr. Richard Lee for his invaluable suggestions on this work. Seok Chung was supported by the International Research & Development Program (Grant number: 2009-00631). We acknowledge support from the Singapore-MIT Alliance for Research and Technology and an American Heart Association Predoctoral Fellowship for Chen-rei Wan. This work was also supported by National Science Foundation (Science and Technology Center (EBICS) Emergent Behaviors of Integrated Cellular Systems Grant CBET-0939511).


  • Bone morphogenetic protein 2
  • Cardiogenesis
  • Embryoid bodies
  • Stem cell therapy
  • Uniaxial cyclic stretch

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biomedical Engineering


Dive into the research topics of 'Differentiation of embryonic stem cells into cardiomyocytes in a compliant microfluidic system'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this