Combining tissue engineering and optical imaging approaches to explore interactions along the neuro-cardiac axis.
Sigalas C., Cremer M., Winbo A., Bose SJ., Ashton JL., Bub G., Montgomery JM., Burton RAB.
Interactions along the neuro-cardiac axis are being explored with regard to their involvement in cardiac diseases, including catecholaminergic polymorphic ventricular tachycardia, hypertension, atrial fibrillation, long QT syndrome and sudden death in epilepsy. Interrogation of the pathophysiology and pathogenesis of neuro-cardiac diseases in animal models present challenges resulting from species differences, phenotypic variation, developmental effects and limited availability of data relevant at both the tissue and cellular level. By contrast, tissue-engineered models containing cardiomyocytes and peripheral sympathetic and parasympathetic neurons afford characterization of cellular- and tissue-level behaviours while maintaining precise control over developmental conditions, cellular genotype and phenotype. Such approaches are uniquely suited to long-term, high-throughput characterization using optical recording techniques with the potential for increased translational benefit compared to more established techniques. Furthermore, tissue-engineered constructs provide an intermediary between whole animal/tissue experiments and in silico models. This paper reviews the advantages of tissue engineering methods of multiple cell types and optical imaging techniques for the characterization of neuro-cardiac diseases.