Acta biomaterialia 2017 01 18() pii S1742-7061(17)30060-0
Regeneration and repair of injured or diseased heart valves remains a clinical challenge. Tissue engineering provides a promising treatment approach to facilitate living heart valve repair and regeneration. Three-dimensional (3D) biomimetic scaffolds that possess heterogeneous and anisotropic features that approximate those of native heart valve tissue are beneficial to the successful in vitro development of tissue engineered heart valves (TEHV). Here we report the development and characterization of a novel composite scaffold consisting of nano- and micro-scale fibrous woven fabrics and 3D hydrogels by using textile techniques combined with bioactive hydrogel formation. Embedded nano-micro fibrous scaffolds within hydrogel enhanced mechanical strength and physical structural anisotropy of the composite scaffold (similar to native aortic valve leaflets) and also reduced its compaction. We determined that the composite scaffolds supported the growth of human aortic valve interstitial cells (HAVIC), balanced the remodeling of heart valve ECM against shrinkage, and maintained better physiological fibroblastic phenotype in both normal and diseased HAVIC over single materials. These fabricated composite scaffolds enable the engineering of a living heart valve graft with improved anisotropic structure and tissue biomechanics important for maintaining valve cell phenotypes.
STATEMENT OF SIGNIFICANCE
Heart valve-related disease is an important clinical problem, with over 300,000 surgical repairs performed annually. Tissue engineering offers a promising strategy for heart valve repair and regeneration. In this study, we developed and tissue engineered living nano-micro fibrous woven fabric/hydrogel composite scaffolds by using textile technique combined with bioactive hydrogel formation. The novelty of our technique is that the composite scaffolds can mimic physical structure anisotropy and the mechanical strength of natural aortic valve leaflet. Moreover, the composite scaffolds prevented the matrix shrinkage, which is major problem that causes the failure of TEHV, and better maintained physiological fibroblastic phenotype in both normal and diseased HAVIC. This work marks the first report of a combination composite scaffold using 3D hydrogel enhanced by nano-micro fibrous woven fabric, and represents a promising tissue engineering strategy to treat heart valve injury.