Integrated 3D printed scaffolds and electrical stimulation for enhancing primary human cardiomyocyte cultures

3D printing technology is driving innovation in a wide variety of disciplines, and is beginning to make inroads into the fields of medicine and biology. In particular, 3D printing is being increasingly utilized for the design and fabrication of three-dimensional cell culture scaffolds. This technology allows for scaffolds to be produced rapidly while maintaining a great deal of control over the matrix architecture. This paper presents an effective technique for rapidly designing and fabricating scaffolds from silicone rubber and polycaprolactone (PCL), appropriate for primary human cardiomyocyte cell cultures. Additionally, a stimulation device is developed and presented which can provide 6 channels of wirelessly controlled electrical stimulation to the cell culture scaffolds. The design, fabrication, benchtop evaluation, and biological evaluation of the scaffolds and stimulation device for primary human cardiomyocyte cell culture are presented. The results clearly indicate the effectiveness of both the scaffold fabrication technique and the operation of the stimulation device. The silicone rubber scaffold showed significantly lower cell attachment as compared to the PCL scaffold, validating the suitability of PCL as a material to be employed in the synthesis of bioscaffolds, employed in the management of several medical pathologies such as tissue regeneration and wound healing. Additionally, the biocompatible PCL scaffold stimulated with electrical impulse (5 V, 2 ms pulses, 1 Hz) exhibited higher cell attachment and differentiated actin cytoskeletal structures as compared to the unstimulated scaffold, indicating the potential of this technique in tissue engineering applications.