Construction of a bioengineered cardiac graft

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Objectives: Currently available graft materials for repair of congenital heart defects cause significant morbidity and mortality because of their lack of growth potential. An autologous cell-seeded graft may improve patient outcomes. We report our initial experience with the construction of a biodegradable graft seeded with cultured rat or human cells and identify their 3-dimensional growth characteristics. Methods: Fetal rat ventricular cardiomyocytes, stomach smooth muscle cells, skin fibroblasts, and adult human atrial and ventricular cardiomyocytes were isolated and cultured in vitro. These cells were injected into or laid onto biodegradable gelatin meshes, and their rate of proliferation and spatial location within the mesh was evaluated by using a cell counter and histologic analysis. Results: Rat cardiomyocytes, smooth muscle cells, and fibroblasts demonstrated steady proliferation over 3 to 4 weeks. The gelatin mesh was slowly degraded, but this process was most rapid after seeding with fibroblasts. Human atrial cardiomyocytes proliferated within the gelatin meshes but at a slower rate than that of fetal rat cardiomyocytes. Human ventricular cardiomyocytes survived within the gelatin mesh matrix but did not increase in number during the 2-week duration of evaluation. Grafts seeded with rat ventricular cells exhibited spontaneous rhythmic contractility. All cell types preferentially migrated to the uppermost surface of each graft and formed a 300- to 500-μm thick layer. Conclusions: Fetal rat ventricular cardiomyocytes, gastric smooth muscle cells, skin fibroblasts, and adult human atrial cardiomyocytes can grow in a 3-dimensional pattern within a biodegradable gelatin mesh. Similar autologous cell-seeded constructs may eventually be applied to repair congenital heart defects.




Li, R. K., Yau, T. M., Weisel, R. D., Mickle, D. A. G., Sakai, T., Choi, A., & Jia, Z. Q. (2000). Construction of a bioengineered cardiac graft. Journal of Thoracic and Cardiovascular Surgery, 119(2), 368–375.

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