Tissue-engineered heart valves: Autologous valve leaflet replacement study in a lamb model

Toshiharu Shinoka, Peter X. Ma, Dominique Shum-Tim, Christopher K. Breuer, Robert A. Cusick, Gregor Zund, Robert Langer, Joseph P. Vacanti, John E. Mayer

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

252 Scopus citations


Background: We have previously reported the successful creation of tissue-engineered valve leaflets and the implantation of these autologous tissue leaflets in the pulmonary valve position. This study was designed to trace cultured cells that were seeded onto a biodegradable polymer with the use of a 1,1'-dioctadecyl-3,3,3',3'-tetramethylindo-carbocyanine perchlorate (Di-I) cell-labeling method. We also examined the time-related biochemical, biomechanical, and histological characteristics and evolution of these tissue constructs. Methods and Results: Mixed cell populations of endothelial cells and fibroblasts were isolated from explanted ovine arteries. Endothelial cells were selectively labeled with an acetylated low-density lipoprotein marker and separated from fibroblasts with the use of a fluorescence activated cell sorter. A synthetic biodegradable scaffold consisting of polyglycolic acid fibers was seeded first with fibroblasts, then coated with endothelial cells. Using these methods, we implanted autologous cell/polymer constructs in six animals. In two additional control animals, a leaflet of polymer was implanted without prior cell seeding. In each animal, cardiopulmonary bypass was used to completely resect the right posterior leaflet of the pulmonary valve and replace it with an engineered valve leaflet with (n = 6) or without (n = 2) prior cultured cell seeding. The animals were killed either after 6 hours or after 1, 6, 7, 9, or 11 weeks, and the implanted valve leaflets were examined histologically, biochemically, and biomechanically, 4-Hydroxyproline assays were performed to determine collagen content. Leaflet strength was evaluated in vitro with a mechanical tester. Factor VIII and elastin stains were done to verify histologically that endothelial cells and elastin, respectively, were present. Animals receiving leaflets made from polymers without cell seeding were killed and examined in a similar fashion after 8 weeks. In the control animals, the acellular polymer leaflets were completely degraded, with no residual leaflet tissue at 8 weeks. The tissue-engineered valve leaflet persisted in each animal in the experimental group. 4-Hydroxyproline analysis of the constructs showed a progressive increase in collagen content. Immunohistochemical staining demonstrated elastin fibers in the matrix and factor VIII on the surface of the leaflet. The cell-labeling experiments demonstrated that the cells on the leaflets had persisted from the in vitro seeding of the leaflets. Conclusions: In the tissue-engineered heart valve leaflet, transplanted autologous cells generated a proper matrix on the polymer scaffold in a physiological environment at a period of 8 weeks after implantation.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)II164-II168
Issue number9 SUPPL.
StatePublished - Nov 1 1996
Externally publishedYes


  • biomedical engineering
  • cells
  • endothelium
  • prosthesis
  • tissue
  • valves

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine
  • Physiology (medical)


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