Biomechanical dynamic interactions between cells and the extracellular environment dynamically regulate physiological tissue behavior in living organisms, such as that seen in tissue maintenance and remodeling. In this study, the substrate-induced modulation of synchronized beating in cultured cardiomyocyte tissue was systematically characterized on elasticity-tunable substrates to elucidate the effect of biomechanical coupling. We found that myocardial conduction is significantly promoted when the rigidity of the cell culture environment matches that of the cardiac cells (4 kiloPascals). The stability of spontaneous target wave activity and calcium transient alternans in high frequency-paced tissue were both enhanced when the cell substrate and cell tissue showed the same rigidity. By adapting a simple theoretical model, we reproduced the experimental trend on the rigidity matching for the synchronized excitation. We conclude that rigidity matching in cell-to-substrate interactions critically improves cardiomyocyte-tissue synchronization, suggesting that mechanical coupling plays an essential role in the dynamic activity of the beating heart.
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