Complete Static Repopulation of Decellularized Porcine Tissues for Heart Valve Engineering: An in vitro Study

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To date, a completely in vitro repopulated tissue-engineered heart valve has not been developed. This study focused on sequentially seeding 2 cell populations onto porcine decellularized heart valve leaflets (HVL) and pericardia (PER) to obtain fully repopulated tissues. For repopulation of the interstitium, porcine valvular interstitial cells (VIC) and bone marrow-derived mesenchymal stem cells (BM-MSC) or adipose tissue-derived stem cells (ADSC) were used. In parallel, the culture medium was supplemented with ascorbic acid 2-phosphate (AA) and its effect on recolonization was investigated. Subsequently and in order to obtain an endothelial surface layer similar to those in native HVL, valvular endothelial cells (VEC) were seeded onto the scaffolds. It was shown that VIC efficiently recolonized HVL and partially also PER. On the other hand, stem cells only demonstrated limited or no subsurface cell infiltration of HVL and PER. Interestingly, the addition of AA increased the migratory capacity of both stem cell populations. However, this was more pronounced for BM-MSC, and recolonization of HVL appeared to be more efficient than that of PER tissue. VEC were demonstrated to generate a new endothelial layer on HVL and PER. However, scanning microscopy revealed that these endothelial cells were not allowed to fully spread onto PER. This study provided a proof of concept for the future generation of a bioactive tissue-engineered heart valve by showing that bioactive HVL could be generated in vitro within 14 days via complete repopulation of the interstitium with BM-MSC or VIC and subsequent generation of an entirely new endothelium.

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