Congenital and acquired heart diseases are leading causes of morbidity and mortality world-wide. Currently, the synthetic materials or bioprosthetic replacement devices for cardiovascular surgery are imperfect and subject patients to one or more ongoing risks including thrombosis, limited durability and need for reoperations due to lack of growth in children and young adults. Suitable replacement grafts should have appropriate characteristics, including resistance to infection, low immunogenicity, good biocompatability and thromboresistance, with appropriate mechanical and physiological properties. Tissue engineering is a new scientific field aiming at fabrication of living, autologous grafts having structure or function properties that can be used to restore, maintain or improve tissue function. The use of autologous stem cells in cardiovascular tissue engineering is quite promising due to their capacity of self-renewal, high proliferation, and differentiation into specialized progeny. Progress has been made in engineering the various components of the cardiovascular system, including myocardial constructs, heart valves, and vascular patches or conduits with autologous stem cells. This paper will review the current achievements in stem cell-based cardiovascular grafts tissue engineering, with an emphasis on its clinical or possible clinical use in cardiovascular surgery. © 2006 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.
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