Background: We investigated whether electrical stimulation via indium tin oxide (ITO) could enhance the in vitro culture of neonatal rat ventricular myocytes (NRVMs), which are important in vitro models for studying the mechanisms underlying many aspects of cardiology.
Methods: Cardiomyocytes were obtained from 1-day-old neonatal rat heart ventricles. To evaluate function of NRVMs cultured on ITO with electrical stimulation, the cell viability, change of cell morphology, immunochemistry using cardiac-specific antibodies, and gene expression were tested.
Results: Defined sarcomeric structure, cell enlargement, and increased distribution of NRVMs appeared in the presence of electrical stimulation. These characteristics were absent in NRVMs cultured under standard culture conditions. In addition, the expression levels of cardiomyocyte-specific and ion channel markers were higher in NRVMs seeded on ITO-coated dishes than in the control group at 14 days after seeding. ITO-coated dishes could effectively provide electrical cues to support the in vitro culture of NRVMs.
Conclusions: These results provide supporting evidence that electrical stimulation via ITO can be effectively used to maintain culture and enhance function of cardiomyocytes in vitro.