Alignment of skeletal myoblasts is considered a critical step during myotube formation. The C2C12 cell line is frequently used as a model of skeletal muscle differentiation that can be induced by lowering the serum concentration in standard culture flasks. In order to mimic the striated architectures of skeletal muscles in vitro, micro-patterning techniques and surface engineering have been proven as useful approaches for promoting elongation and alignment of C2C12 myoblasts, thereby enhancing the outgrowth of multi-nucleated myotubes upon switching from growth media (GM) to differentiative media (DM). Herein, a layer-by-layer (LbL) polyelectrolyte multilayer deposition was combined with a micro-molding in capillaries (MIMIC) method to simultaneously provide biochemical and geometrical instructive cues that induced the formation of tightly apposed and parallel arrays of differentiating myotubes from C2C12 cells maintained in GM media for 15 days. This study focuses on two different types of patterned/self-assembled nanofilms based on alternated layers of poly (allylamine hydrochloride) (PAH)/poly(sodium 4-styrene-sulfonate) (PSS) as biocompatible but not biodegradable polymeric structures, or poly-L-arginine sulfate salt (pARG)/dextran sulfate sodium salt (DXS) as both biocompatible and biodegradable surfaces. The influence of these microstructures as well as of the nanofilm composition on C2C12 skeletal muscle cells' differentiation and viability was evaluated and quantified, pointing to give a reference for skeletal muscle regenerative potential in culture conditions that do not promote it. At this regard, our results validate PEM microstructured devices, to a greater extent for (PAH/PSS)5-coated microgrooves, as biocompatible and innovative tools for tissue engineering applications and molecular dissection of events controlling C2C12 skeletal muscle regeneration without switching to their optimal differentiative culture media in vitro. Biotechnol. Bioeng. 2013; 110: 586–596. © 2012 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.
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