Development of Light-Responsive Liquid Crystalline Elastomers to Assist Cardiac Contraction

Year: 2019

Authors: Ferrantini C., Pioner JM., Martella D., Coppini R., Piroddi N., Paoli P., Calamai M., Pavone FS., Wiersma DS., Tesi C., Cerbai E., Poggesi C., Sacconi L., Parmeggiani C.

Autors Affiliation: Univ Florence, Dept Expt & Clin Med, Largo Brambilla 3, I-50134 Florence, Italy; Univ Florence, Dept Chem Ugo Schiff, Florence, Italy; Univ Florence, Dept Neurosci Psychol Drug Res & Child Hlth NEURO, Florence, Italy; Univ Florence, Dept Phys & Astron, Florence, Italy; European Lab Nonlinear Spect, Sesto Fiorentino, Italy; CNR, Natl Inst Opt, Sesto Fiorentino, Italy; Dept Biochem Expt & Clin Mario Serio, Florence, Italy; Ist Nazl Ric Metrol INRiM, Turin, Italy

Abstract: Rationale: Despite major advances in cardiovascular medicine, heart disease remains a leading cause of death worldwide. However, the field of tissue engineering has been growing exponentially in the last decade and restoring heart functionality is now an affordable target; yet, new materials are still needed for effectively provide rapid and long-lasting interventions. Liquid crystalline elastomers (LCEs) are biocompatible polymers able to reversibly change shape in response to a given stimulus and generate movement. Once stimulated, LCEs can produce tension or movement like a muscle. However, so far their application in biology was limited by slow response times and a modest possibility to modulate tension levels during activation.

Objective: To develop suitable LCE-based materials to assist cardiac contraction.

Methods and Results: Thanks to a quick, simple, and versatile synthetic approach, a palette of biocompatible acrylate-based light-responsive LCEs with different molecular composition was prepared and mechanically characterized. Out of this, the more compliant one was selected. This material was able to contract for some weeks when activated with very low light intensity within a physiological environment. Its contraction was modulated in terms of light intensity, stimulation frequency, and t(on)/t(off) ratio to fit different contraction amplitude/time courses, including those of the human heart. Finally, LCE strips were mounted in parallel with cardiac trabeculae, and we demonstrated their ability to improve muscular systolic function, with no impact on diastolic properties.

Conclusions: Our results indicated LCEs are promising in assisting cardiac mechanical function and developing a new generation of contraction assist devices.


Volume: 124 (8)      Pages from: E44  to: E54

KeyWords: elastomers; mechanics; muscle contraction; physiology; tissue engineering
DOI: 10.1161/CIRCRESAHA.118.313889

Citations: 31
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