Exercising bioengineered skeletal muscle in vitro: Biopsy to bioreactor

The bioengineering of skeletal muscle tissue in-vitro has enabled researchers to more closely mimic the in-vivo skeletal muscle niche. The three-dimensional (3-D) structure of the tissue engineered systems employed to date enable the generation of highly aligned and differentiated myofibers within a representative biological matrix. The use of electrical stimulation to model concentric contraction, via innervation of the myofibers, and the use of mechanical loading to model passive lengthening or stretch has begun to provide a manipulable environment to investigate the cellular and molecular responses following exercise mimicking stimuli in-vitro. Currently available bioreactor systems allow either electrical stimulation or mechanical loading to be utilized at any given time. In the present manuscript, we describe in detail the methodological procedures to create 3-D bioengineered skeletal muscle using both cell lines and/or primary human muscle derived cells from a tissue biopsy, through to modeling exercising stimuli using a bioreactor that can provide both electrical stimulation and mechanical loading simultaneously within the same in-vitro system.