Functional regeneration of tissue engineered skeletal muscle in vitro is dependent on the inclusion of basement membrane proteins

Skeletal muscle has a high regenerative capacity, injuries trigger a regenerative program which restores tissue function to a level indistinguishable to the pre-injury state. However, in some cases where significant trauma occurs, such as injuries seen in military populations, the regenerative process is overwhelmed and cannot restore full function. Limited clinical interventions exist which can be used to promote regeneration and prevent the formation of non-regenerative defects following severe skeletal muscle trauma. Robust and reproducible techniques for modelling complex tissue responses are essential to promote the discovery of effective clinical interventions. Tissue engineering has been highlighted as an alternative method, allowing the generation of three-dimensional in vivo like tissues without laboratory animals. Reducing the requirement for animal models promotes rapid screening of potential clinical interventions, as these models are more easily manipulated genetically and pharmacologically and reduce the associated cost and complexity, whilst increasing access to models for laboratories without animal facilities. In this study an in vitro chemical injury using barium chloride is validated using the C2C12 myoblast cell line, and is shown to selectively remove multinucleated myotubes, whilst retaining a regenerative mononuclear cell population. Monolayer cultures showed limited regenerative capacity, with basement membrane supplementation or extended regenerative time incapable of improving the regenerative response. Conversely tissue engineered skeletal muscles, supplemented with basement membrane proteins, showed full functional regeneration, and a broader in vivo like inflammatory response. This work outlines a freely available and open access methodology to produce a cell line-based tissue engineered model of skeletal muscle regeneration.