In this paper, we report an in vitro co-culture system that combines mammalian cells and algae, Chlorococcum littorale, to create a three-dimensional (3-D) tissue. While the C2C12 mouse myoblasts and rat cardiac cells consumed oxygen actively, intense oxygen production was accounted for by the algae even in the co-culture system. Although cell metabolism within thicker cardiac cell-layered tissues showed anaerobic respiration, the introduction of innovative co-cultivation partially changed the metabolism to aerobic respiration. Moreover, the amount of glucose consumption and lactate production in the cardiac tissues and the amount of ammonia in the culture media decreased significantly when co-cultivated with algae. In the cardiac tissues devoid of algae, delamination was observed histologically, and the release of creatine kinase (CK) from the tissues showed severe cardiac cell damage. On the other hand, the layered cell tissues with algae were observed to be in a good histological condition, with less than one-fifth decline in CK release. The co-cultivation with algae improved the culture condition of the thicker tissues, resulting in the formation of 160 μm-thick cardiac tissues. Thus, the present study proposes the possibility of creating an in vitro "symbiotic recycling system" composed of mammalian cells and algae.
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