Background: Heart valve tissue engineering represents a concept for improving the current methods of valvular heart disease therapy. The aim of this study was to develop tissue engineered heart valves combining human umbilical vein endothelial cells (HUVECs) and decellularized human heart valve matrices. Methods and Results: Pulmonary (n=9) and aortic (n=6) human allografts were harvested from explanted hearts from heart transplant recipients and were decellularized using a detergent-based cell extraction method. Analysis of decellularization success was performed with light microscopy, transmission electron microscopy and quantitative analysis of collagen and elastin content. The decellularization method resulted in full removal of native cells while the mechanical stability and the quantitative composition of the neoscaffolds was maintained. The luminal surface of the human matrix could be successfully recellularized with in vitro expanded HUVECs under dynamic flow conditions. The surface appeared as a confluent cell monolayer of positively labeled cells for von Willebrand factor and CD 31, indicating their endothelial nature. Conclusions: Human heart valves can be decellularized by the described method. Recellularization of the human matrix resulted in the formation of a confluent HUVEC monolayer. The in vitro construction of tissue-engineered heart valves based on decellularized human matrices followed by endothelialization using HUVECs is a feasible and safe method, leading to the development of future clinical strategies in the treatment of heart valve disease.
- Extracellular matrix
- Heart valves
- Tissue engineering
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine