Hersh Nanda

Development of a user-defined software for robust cardiomyocyte contraction analysis

Hersh Nanda, BASIS CHANDLER, High School Student

Cardiomyocytes, or cardiac muscle cells, make up heart tissue and are essential for normal cardiac function. Current research into the quantification and measurement of cardiomyocyte contraction is crucial for understanding cardiomyocyte physiology, pathology, and drug-induced response. Although methods for cardiomyocyte contraction analysis exist, most are time-consuming and require skilled manual intervention, extensive training, and expensive proprietary equipment. The purpose of our research was to eliminate these concerns with the feasible alternative of a user-defined software for robust cardiomyocyte contraction analysis.

This program contains two primary MATLAB functions: an integrateMonolayer function, and select BoundingBoxed function. The integrateMonolayer function was developed to perform an automated contraction analysis on cardiomyocyte monolayers. On the other hand, the select Bounding Boxes function was created as a user-friendly interface to allow users to manually draw bounding boxes on the monolayer video frames. Bounding boxes must be created to analyze specific regions of interest in which cardiomyocyte contractions have occurred. After the bounding boxes have been generated, the integrateMonolayer function performs the analysis and outputs cardiomyocyte contraction traces for parameter calculation.

The software was used to analyze two cardiomyocyte monolayers: a control monolayer (no treatment added) and an FSK monolayer (forskolin or FSK treatment was added to alter cardiomyocyte contraction rate). Post-analysis, the software generated reliable contraction traces which correctly displayed an abnormally high cardiomyocyte contraction rate in the forskolin (FSK) monolayer. Overall, the software successfully performed cardiomyocyte contraction analysis including contraction trace generation, processing, and display.

The software provides a reliable and user-friendly method for analysis, and the results validated the program's capability and efficacy in analyzing cardiomyocyte contraction data. This software can be used for modeling of heart diseases including cardiovascular disease, cardiomyopathy, and cardiotoxicity. Using this software, cardiomyocyte monolayers can be compared and analyzed for the identification of pathological differences due to heart disease. This software can also be used for pharmacological applications including drug-testing and treatment development. Cardiac arrhythmia (irregular heartbeat), which is a strong indicator of heart failure, can also be detected through cardiomyocyte contraction analysis.

Note: This research project was performed under the guidance of Dr. Jared Churko as part of the University of Arizona KEYS program (June-July 2021)

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