Engineering Cardiac Muscle Tissue: A Maturating Field of Research
Twenty years after the initial description of a tissue engineered construct, 3-dimensional human cardiac tissues of different kinds are now generated routinely in many laboratories. Advances in stem cell biology and engineering allow for the generation of constructs that come close to recapitulating the complex structure of heart muscle and might, therefore, be amenable to industrial (eg, drug screening) and clinical (eg, cardiac repair) applications. Whether the more physiological structure of 3-dimensional constructs provides a relevant advantage over standard 2-dimensional cell culture has yet to be shown in head-to-head-comparisons. The present article gives an overview on current strategies of cardiac tissue engineering with a focus on different hydrogel methods and discusses perspectives and challenges for necessary steps toward the real-life application of cardiac tissue engineering for disease modeling, drug development, and cardiac repair.