Communications Biology (Nov 2023)

Skeletal muscle cells opto-stimulation by intramembrane molecular transducers

  • Ilaria Venturino,
  • Vito Vurro,
  • Silvio Bonfadini,
  • Matteo Moschetta,
  • Sara Perotto,
  • Valentina Sesti,
  • Luigino Criante,
  • Chiara Bertarelli,
  • Guglielmo Lanzani

Journal volume & issue
Vol. 6, no. 1
pp. 1 – 11


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Abstract Optical stimulation and control of muscle cell contraction opens up a number of interesting applications in hybrid robotic and medicine. Here we show that recently designed molecular phototransducer can be used to stimulate C2C12 skeletal muscle cells, properly grown to exhibit collective behaviour. C2C12 is a skeletal muscle cell line that does not require animal sacrifice Furthermore, it is an ideal cell model for evaluating the phototransducer pacing ability due to its negligible spontaneous activity. We study the stimulation process and analyse the distribution of responses in multinuclear cells, in particular looking at the consistency between stimulus and contraction. Contractions are detected by using an imaging software for object recognition. We find a deterministic response to light stimuli, yet with a certain distribution of erratic behaviour that is quantified and correlated to light intensity or stimulation frequency. Finally, we compare our optical stimulation with electrical stimulation showing advantages of the optical approach, like the reduced cell stress.