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Tissue Eng Part A. 2009 Mar;15(3):645-53. doi: 10.1089/ten.tea.2008.0077.

Insulin-like growth factor-I and slow, bi-directional perfusion enhance the formation of tissue-engineered cardiac grafts.

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Harvard-MIT Division of Health Sciences and Technology, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge, Massachusetts 02139, USA.


Biochemical and mechanical signals enabling cardiac regeneration can be elucidated using in vitro tissue-engineering models. We hypothesized that insulin-like growth factor-I (IGF) and slow, bi-directional perfusion could act independently and interactively to enhance the survival, differentiation, and contractile performance of tissue-engineered cardiac grafts. Heart cells were cultured on three-dimensional porous scaffolds in medium with or without supplemental IGF and in the presence or absence of slow, bi-directional perfusion that enhanced transport and provided shear stress. Structural, molecular, and electrophysiologic properties of the resulting grafts were quantified on culture day 8. IGF had independent, beneficial effects on apoptosis (p < 0.01), cellular viability (p < 0.01), contractile amplitude (p < 0.01), and excitation threshold (p < 0.01). Perfusion independently affected the four aforementioned parameters and also increased amounts of cardiac troponin-I (p < 0.01), connexin-43 (p < 0.05), and total protein (p < 0.01) in the grafts. Interactive effects of IGF and perfusion on apoptosis were also present (p < 0.01). Myofibrillogenesis and spontaneous contractility were present only in grafts cultured with perfusion, although contractility was inducible by electrical field stimulation of grafts from all groups. Our findings demonstrate that multi-factorial stimulation of tissue-engineered cardiac grafts using IGF and perfusion resulted in independent and interactive effects on heart cell survival, differentiation, and contractility.

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