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Artif Organs. 2005 Nov;29(11):866-75.

In vivo conditioning of tissue-engineered heart muscle improves contractile performance.

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1
Sections of Cardiac Surgery, The University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, MI, U.S.A.

Abstract

The ability to engineer cardiac tissue in vitro is limited by the absence of a vasculature. In this study we describe an in vivo model which allows neovascularization of engineered cardiac tissue. Three-dimensional cardiac tissue, termed "cardioids," was engineered in vitro from the spontaneous delamination of a confluent monolayer of cardiac cells. Cardioids were sutured onto a support framework and then implanted in a subcutaneous pocket in syngeneic recipient rats. Three weeks after implantation, cardioids were recovered for in vitro force testing and histological evaluation. Staining for hematoxylin and eosin demonstrated the presence of viable cells within explanted cardioids. Immunostaining with von Willebrand factor showed the presence of vascularization. Electron micrographs revealed the presence of large amounts of aligned contractile proteins and a high degree of intercellular connectivity. The peak active force increased from an average value of 57 microN for control cardioids to 447 microN for explanted cardioids. There was also a significant increase in the specific force. There was a significant decrease in the time to peak tension and half relaxation time. Explanted cardioids could be electrically paced at frequencies of 1-5 Hz. Explanted cardioids exhibited a sigmoidal response to calcium and positive chronotropy in response to epinephrine. As the field of cardiac tissue engineering progresses, it becomes desirable to engineer larger diameter tissue equivalents and to induce angiogenesis within tissue constructs. This study describes a relatively simple in vivo model, which promotes the neovascularization of tissue-engineered heart muscle and subsequent improvement in contractile performance.

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