Embryonic stem cell derived cardiomyocytes are deemed an attractive treatment option for myocardial infarction. Their clinical efficacy, however, has not been unequivocally demonstrated. There is a need for better understanding and characterization of the cardiogenesis process. A microfluidic platform in vitro is used to dissect and better understand the differentiation process. Through this study, we find that while embryoid bodies (EBs) flatten out in a well plate system, differentiated EBs self-assemble into complex 3D structures. The beating regions of EBs are also different. Most beating areas are observed in a ring pattern on 2D well plates around the center, self-assembled beating large 3D aggregates are found in microfluidic devices. Furthermore, inspired by the natural mechanical environment of the heart, we applied uniaxial cyclic mechanical stretch to EBs. Results suggest that prolonged mechanical stimulation acts as a negative regulator of cardiogenesis. From this study, we conclude that the culture environments can influence differentiation of embryonic stem cells into cardiomycytes, and that the use of microfluidic systems can provide new insights into the differentiation process.

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