We have recently demonstrated that cardiac cells can communicate mechanically by responding to deformations generated by their neighbors. We have shown that an isolated cardiac cell can be trained to beat at a given frequency by mechanically stimulating the underlying substrate. The stimulation was applied by an artificial “mechanical cell” , consisting of a probe that generated periodic deformations in the underlying substrate. The deformations mimicked those generated by a beating neighboring cardiac cell. The induced beating rate was maintained by the cell for over an hour after mechanical stimulation was stopped. We have further shown that mechanical communication plays and important role in cardiac physiology and is essential for converting electrical pacing into synchronized beating. We are currently studying the underlying mechanism and the implications on cardiovascular diseases.
Link for the relevant Publication in Nature physics