Skeletal muscle tissue engineering holds great promise for pharmacological studies. Herein, we demonstrated an in vitro drug testing system using tissue-engineered skeletal muscle constructs. In response to epigenetic drugs, myotube differentiation of C2C12 myoblast cells was promoted in two-dimensional cell cultures, but the levels of contractile force generation of tissue-engineered skeletal muscle constructs prepared by three-dimensional cell cultures were not correlated with the levels of myotube differentiation in two-dimensional cell cultures. In contrast, sarcomere formation and contractile activity in two-dimensional cell cultures were highly correlated with contractile force generation of tissue-engineered skeletal muscle constructs. Among the epigenetic drugs tested, trichostatin A significantly improved contractile force generation of tissue-engineered skeletal muscle constructs. Follistatin expression was also enhanced by trichostatin A treatment, suggesting the importance of follistatin in sarcomere formation of muscular tissues. These observations indicate that contractility data are indispensable for in vitro drug screening.
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