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Cardiovascular tissue engineering I. Perfusion bioreactors: a review.

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Medical University of South Carolina, Cell Biology and Anatomy Department, Charleston, South Carolina 29425, USA.


Tissue engineering is a fast-evolving field of biomedical science and technology with future promise to manufacture living tissues and organs for replacement, repair, and regeneration of diseased organs. Owing to the specific role of hemodynamics in the development, maintenance, and functioning of the cardiovascular system, bioreactors are a fundamental of cardiovascular tissue engineering. The development of perfusion bioreactor technology for cardiovascular tissue engineering is a direct sequence of previous historic successes in extracorporeal circulation techniques. Bioreactors provide a fluidic environment for tissue engineered tissue and organs, and guarantee their viability, maturation, biomonitoring, testing, storage, and transportation. There are different types of bioreactors and they vary greatly in their size, complexity, and functional capabilities. Although progress in design and functional properties of perfusion bioreactors for tissue engineered blood vessels, heart valves, and myocardial patches is obvious, there are some challenges and insufficiently addressed issues, and room for bioreactor design improvement and performance optimization. These challenges include creating a triple perfusion bioreactor for vascularized tubular tissue engineered cardiac construct; designing and manufacturing fluidics-based perfused minibioreactors; incorporation of systematic mathematical modeling and computer simulation based on computational fluid dynamics into the bioreactor designing process; and development of automatic systems of hydrodynamic regime control. Designing and engineering of built-in noninvasive biomonitoring systems is another important challenge. The optimal and most efficient perfusion and conditioning regime, which accelerates tissue maturation of tissue-engineered constructs also remains to be determined. This is a first article in a series of reviews on critical elements of cardiovascular tissue engineering technology describing the current status, unsolved problems, and challenges of bioreactor technology in cardiovascular tissue engineering and outlining future trends and developments.

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