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Tissue Eng. 2005 May-Jun;11(5-6):803-13.

Myocardial engineering in vivo: formation and characterization of contractile, vascularized three-dimensional cardiac tissue.

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Department of Biomedical Engineering, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, Michigan, USA.


Engineering cardiac tissue in three dimensions is limited by the ability to supply nourishment to the cells in the center of the construct. This limits the radius of an in vitro engineered cardiac construct to approximately 40 microm. This study describes a method of engineering contractile three-dimensional cardiac tissue with the incorporation of an intrinsic vascular supply. Neonatal cardiac myocytes were cultured in vivo in silicone chambers, in close proximity to an intact vascular pedicle. Silicone tubes were filled with a suspension of cardiac myocytes in fibrin gel and surgically placed around the femoral artery and vein of adult rats. At 3 weeks, the tissues in the chambers were harvested for in vitro contractility evaluation and processed for histologic analysis. By 3 weeks, the chambers had become filled with living tissue. Hematoxylin and eosin staining showed large amounts of muscle tissue situated around the femoral vessels. Electron micrographs revealed well-organized intracellular contractile machinery and a high degree of intercellular connectivity. Immunostaining for von Willebrand factor demonstrated neovascularization throughout the constructs. With electrical stimulation, the constructs were able to generate an average active force of 263 microN with a maximum of 843 microN. Electrical pacing was successful at frequencies of 1 to 20 Hz. In addition, the constructs exhibited positive inotropy in response to ionic calcium and positive chronotropy in response to epinephrine. As engineering of cardiac replacement tissue proceeds, vascularization is an increasingly important component in the development of three-dimensional structures. This study demonstrates the in vivo survival, vascularization, organization, and functionality of transplanted myocardial cells.

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