Materials science and tissue engineering: repairing the heart.
ABSTRACT: Heart failure after a myocardial infarction continues to be a leading killer in the Western world. Currently, there are no therapies that effectively prevent or reverse the cardiac damage and negative left ventricular remodeling process that follows a myocardial infarction. Because the heart has limited regenerative capacity, there has been considerable effort to develop new therapies that could repair and regenerate the myocardium. Although cell transplantation alone was initially studied, more recently, tissue engineering strategies using biomaterial scaffolds have been explored. In this review, we cover the different approaches to engineering the myocardium, including cardiac patches, which are in vitro-engineered constructs of functional myocardium, and injectable scaffolds, which can either encourage endogenous repair and regeneration or act as vehicles to support the delivery of cells and other therapeutics.
Project description:Treating a myocardial infarction (MI), the most frequent cause of death worldwide, remains one of the most exciting medical challenges in the 21st century. Cardiac tissue engineering, a novel emerging treatment, involves the use of therapeutic cells supported by a scaffold for regenerating the infarcted area. It is essential to select the appropriate scaffold material; the ideal one should provide a suitable cellular microenvironment, mimic the native myocardium, and allow mechanical and electrical coupling with host tissues. Among available scaffold materials, natural scaffolds are preferable for achieving these purposes because they possess myocardial extracellular matrix properties and structures. Here, we review several natural scaffolds for applications in MI management, with a focus on pre-clinical studies and clinical trials performed to date. We also evaluate scaffolds combined with different cell types and proteins for their ability to promote improved heart function, contractility and neovascularization, and attenuate adverse ventricular remodeling. Although further refinement is necessary in the coming years, promising results indicate that natural scaffolds may be a valuable translational therapeutic option with clinical impact in MI repair.
Project description:Recently, carbon nanotubes together with other types of conductive materials have been used to enhance the viability and function of cardiomyocytes in vitro. Here we demonstrated a paradigm to construct ECTs for cardiac repair using conductive nanomaterials. Single walled carbon nanotubes (SWNTs) were incorporated into gelatin hydrogel scaffolds to construct three-dimensional ECTs. We found that SWNTs could provide cellular microenvironment in vitro favorable for cardiac contraction and the expression of electrochemical associated proteins. Upon implantation into the infarct hearts in rats, ECTs structurally integrated with the host myocardium, with different types of cells observed to mutually invade into implants and host tissues. The functional measurements showed that SWNTs were essential to improve the performance of ECTs in inhibiting pathological deterioration of myocardium. This work suggested that conductive nanomaterials hold therapeutic potential in engineering cardiac tissues to repair myocardial infarction.
Project description:Coronary heart disease is a leading cause of death. Tissue remodeling and fibrosis results in cardiac pump dysfunction and ischemic heart failure. Cardiac fibroblasts may rebuild damaged tissues when prompted by suitable environmental cues. Here, we use acellular biologic extracellular matrix scaffolds (bioscaffolds) to stimulate pathways of muscle repair and restore tissue function. We show that acellular bioscaffolds with bioinductive properties can redirect cardiac fibroblasts to rebuild microvascular networks and avoid tissue fibrosis. Specifically, when human cardiac fibroblasts are combined with bioactive scaffolds, gene expression is upregulated and paracrine mediators are released that promote vasculogenesis and prevent scarring. We assess these properties in rodents with myocardial infarction and observe bioscaffolds to redirect fibroblasts, reduce tissue fibrosis and prevent maladaptive structural remodeling. Our preclinical data confirms that acellular bioscaffold therapy provides an appropriate microenvironment to stimulate pathways of functional repair. We translate our observations to patients with coronary heart disease by conducting a first-in-human observational cohort study. We show that bioscaffold therapy is associated with improved perfusion of infarcted myocardium, reduced myocardial scar burden, and reverse structural remodeling. We establish that clinical use of acellular bioscaffolds is feasible and offers a new frontier to enhance surgical revascularization of ischemic heart muscle.
Project description:Heart failure is a progressive deterioration of cardiac pump function over time and is often a manifestation of ischemic injury caused by myocardial infarction (MI). Post-MI, structural remodeling of the infarcted myocardium ensues. Dysregulation of extracellular matrix (ECM) homeostasis is a hallmark of structural cardiac remodeling and is largely driven by cardiac fibroblast activation. While initially adaptive, structural cardiac remodeling leads to irreversible heart failure due to the progressive loss of cardiac function. Loss of pump function is associated with myocardial fibrosis, wall thinning, and left ventricular (LV) dilatation. Surgical revascularization of the damaged myocardium via coronary artery bypass graft (CABG) surgery and/or percutaneous coronary intervention (PCI) can enhance myocardial perfusion and is beneficial. However, these interventions alone are unable to prevent progressive fibrotic remodeling and loss of heart function that leads to clinical end-stage heart failure. Acellular biologic ECM scaffolds can be surgically implanted onto injured myocardial regions during open-heart surgery as an adjunct therapy to surgical revascularization. This presents a novel therapeutic approach to alter maladaptive remodeling and promote functional recovery. Acellular ECM bioscaffolds have been shown to provide passive structural support to the damaged myocardium and also to act as a dynamic bioactive reservoir capable of promoting endogenous mechanisms of tissue repair, such as vasculogenesis. The composition and structure of xenogenic acellular ECM bioscaffolds are determined by the physiological requirements of the tissue from which they are derived. The capacity of different tissue-derived acellular bioscaffolds to attenuate cardiac remodeling and restore ECM homeostasis after injury may depend on such properties. Accordingly, the search and discovery of an optimal ECM bioscaffold for use in cardiac repair is warranted and may be facilitated by comparing bioscaffolds. This review will provide a summary of the acellular ECM bioscaffolds currently available for use in cardiac surgery with a focus on how they attenuate cardiac remodeling by providing the necessary environmental cues to promote endogenous mechanisms of tissue repair.
Project description:Uniparental parthenotes are considered an unwanted byproduct of in vitro fertilization. In utero parthenote development is severely compromised by defective organogenesis and in particular by defective cardiogenesis. Although developmentally compromised, apparently pluripotent stem cells can be derived from parthenogenetic blastocysts. Here we hypothesized that nonembryonic parthenogenetic stem cells (PSCs) can be directed toward the cardiac lineage and applied to tissue-engineered heart repair. We first confirmed similar fundamental properties in murine PSCs and embryonic stem cells (ESCs), despite notable differences in genetic (allelic variability) and epigenetic (differential imprinting) characteristics. Haploidentity of major histocompatibility complexes (MHCs) in PSCs is particularly attractive for allogeneic cell-based therapies. Accordingly, we confirmed acceptance of PSCs in MHC-matched allotransplantation. Cardiomyocyte derivation from PSCs and ESCs was equally effective. The use of cardiomyocyte-restricted GFP enabled cell sorting and documentation of advanced structural and functional maturation in vitro and in vivo. This included seamless electrical integration of PSC-derived cardiomyocytes into recipient myocardium. Finally, we enriched cardiomyocytes to facilitate engineering of force-generating myocardium and demonstrated the utility of this technique in enhancing regional myocardial function after myocardial infarction. Collectively, our data demonstrate pluripotency, with unrestricted cardiogenicity in PSCs, and introduce this unique cell type as an attractive source for tissue-engineered heart repair.
Project description:Cardiac tissue engineering, which combines cells and supportive scaffolds, is an emerging treatment for restoring cardiac function after myocardial infarction (MI), although, the optimal construct remains a challenge. We developed two engineered cardiac grafts, based on decellularized scaffolds from myocardial and pericardial tissues and repopulated them with adipose tissue mesenchymal stem cells (ATMSCs). The structure, macromechanical and micromechanical scaffold properties were preserved upon the decellularization and recellularization processes, except for recellularized myocardium micromechanics that was ?2-fold stiffer than native tissue and decellularized scaffolds. Proteome characterization of the two acellular matrices showed enrichment of matrisome proteins and major cardiac extracellular matrix components, considerably higher for the recellularized pericardium. Moreover, the pericardial scaffold demonstrated better cell penetrance and retention, as well as a bigger pore size. Both engineered cardiac grafts were further evaluated in pre-clinical MI swine models. Forty days after graft implantation, swine treated with the engineered cardiac grafts showed significant ventricular function recovery. Irrespective of the scaffold origin or cell recolonization, all scaffolds integrated with the underlying myocardium and showed signs of neovascularization and nerve sprouting. Collectively, engineered cardiac grafts -with pericardial or myocardial scaffolds- were effective in restoring cardiac function post-MI, and pericardial scaffolds showed better structural integrity and recolonization capability.
Project description:Cardiovascular disease is the leading cause of death in the developed world, and as such there is a pressing need for treatment options. Cardiac tissue engineering emerged from the need to develop alternative sources and methods of replacing tissue damaged by cardiovascular diseases, as the ultimate treatment option for many who suffer from end-stage heart failure is a heart transplant. In this review we focus on biomaterial approaches to augmenting injured or impaired myocardium, with specific emphasis on: the design criteria for these biomaterials; the types of scaffolds - composed of natural or synthetic biomaterials or decellularized extracellular matrix - that have been used to develop cardiac patches and tissue models; methods to vascularize scaffolds and engineered tissue; and finally, injectable biomaterials (hydrogels) designed for endogenous repair, exogenous repair or as bulking agents to maintain ventricular geometry post-infarct. The challenges facing the field and obstacles that must be overcome to develop truly clinically viable cardiac therapies are also discussed.
Project description:Stem cell therapy is a promising therapeutic option for severe cardiac diseases that are resistant to conventional therapies. To overcome the unsatisfactory results of most clinical researches on stem cell injections to an injured heart, we are developing bioengineered cardiac tissue grafts using pluripotent stem cell-derived cardiomyocytes and vascular cells. We have validated the functional benefits of mouse embryonic stem cell-derived and human induced pluripotent stem cell-derived cardiac tissue sheets (CTSs) in a rat myocardial infarction model. We further showed enhanced functional recovery and engraftment efficiency leading to de novo myocardium upon transplanting thick multi-layered CTSs that had gelatin hydrogel microspheres between the layers. We anticipate that the combination of pluripotent stem cell biology and tissue engineering will contribute to future stem cell therapies for severe heart diseases.
Project description:Structural cardiac remodeling after ischemic injury can induce a transition to heart failure from progressive loss of cardiac function. Cellular regenerative therapies are promising but face significant translational hurdles. Tissue extracellular matrix (ECM) holds the necessary environmental cues to stimulate cell-based endogenous myocardial repair pathways and promote adaptive remodeling toward functional recovery. Heart epicardium has emerged as an important anatomic niche for endogenous repair pathways including vasculogenesis and cardiogenesis. We show that acellular ECM scaffolds surgically implanted on the epicardium following myocardial infarction (MI) can attenuate structural cardiac remodeling and improve functional recovery. We assessed the efficacy of this strategy on post-MI functional recovery by comparing intact bioactive scaffolds with biologically inactivated ECM scaffolds. We confirm that bioactive properties within the acellular ECM biomaterial are essential for the observed functional benefits. We show that interaction of human cardiac fibroblasts with bioactive ECM can induce a robust cell-mediated vasculogenic paracrine response capable of functional blood vessel assembly. Fibroblast growth factor-2 is uncovered as a critical regulator of this novel bioinductive effect. Acellular bioactive ECM scaffolds surgically implanted on the epicardium post-MI can reprogram resident fibroblasts and stimulate adaptive pro-reparative pathways enhancing functional recovery. We introduce a novel surgical strategy for tissue repair that can be performed as an adjunct to conventional surgical revascularization with minimal translational challenges.
Project description:The goal of this study was to demonstrate the enhancement of human cardiac progenitor cell (hCPC) reparative and regenerative potential by genetic modification for the treatment of myocardial infarction.Regenerative potential of stem cells to repair acute infarction is limited. Improved hCPC survival, proliferation, and differentiation into functional myocardium will increase efficacy and advance translational implementation of cardiac regeneration.hCPCs isolated from the myocardium of heart failure patients undergoing left ventricular assist device implantation were engineered to express green fluorescent protein (hCPCe) or Pim-1-GFP (hCPCeP). Functional tests of hCPC regenerative potential were performed with immunocompromised mice by using intramyocardial adoptive transfer injection after infarction. Myocardial structure and function were monitored by echocardiographic and hemodynamic assessment for 20 weeks after delivery. hCPCe and hCPCeP expressing luciferase were observed by using bioluminescence imaging to noninvasively track persistence.hCPCeP exhibited augmentation of reparative potential relative to hCPCe control cells, as shown by significantly increased proliferation coupled with amelioration of infarction injury and increased hemodynamic performance at 20 weeks post-transplantation. Concurrent with enhanced cardiac structure and function, hCPCeP demonstrated increased cellular engraftment and differentiation with improved vasculature and reduced infarct size. Enhanced persistence of hCPCeP versus hCPCe was revealed by bioluminescence imaging at up to 8 weeks post-delivery.Genetic engineering of hCPCs with Pim-1 enhanced repair of damaged myocardium. Ex vivo gene delivery to modify stem cells has emerged as a viable option addressing current limitations in the field. This study demonstrates that efficacy of hCPCs from the failing myocardium can be safely and significantly enhanced through expression of Pim-1 kinase, setting the stage for use of engineered cells in pre-clinical settings.