In the past few years, a considerable amount of effort has been devoted toward the development of biomimetic scaffolds for cardiac tissue engineering. However, most of the previous scaffolds have been electrically insulating or lacked the structural and mechanical robustness to engineer cardiac tissue constructs with suitable electrophysiological functions. Here, we developed tough and flexible hybrid scaffolds with enhanced electrical properties composed of carbon nanotubes (CNTs) embedded aligned poly(glycerol sebacate):gelatin (PG) electrospun nanofibers. Incorporation of varying concentrations of CNTs from 0 to 1.5% within the PG nanofibrous scaffolds (CNT–PG scaffolds) notably enhanced fiber alignment and improved the electrical conductivity and toughness of the scaffolds while maintaining the viability, retention, alignment, and contractile activities of cardiomyocytes (CMs) seeded on the scaffolds. The resulting CNT–PG scaffolds resulted in stronger spontaneous and synchronous beating behavior (3.5-fold lower excitation threshold and 2.8-fold higher maximum capture rate) compared to those cultured on PG scaffold. Overall, our findings demonstrated that aligned CNT–PG scaffold exhibited superior mechanical properties with enhanced CM beating properties. It is envisioned that the proposed hybrid scaffolds can be useful for generating cardiac tissue constructs with improved organization and maturation.
This paper was originally published in Biomaterials 35 (2014) 7346–7354.
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