Objective: In cardiovascular tissue engineering, three-dimensional scaffolds serve as physical supports and templates for cell attachment and tissue development. Currently used scaffolds are still far from ideal, they are potentially immunogenic and they show toxic degradation and inflammatory reactions. The aim of this study is to develop a new method for a three-dimensional completely autologous human tissue without using any scaffold materials. Methods: Human aortic tissue is harvested from the ascending aorta in the operation room and worked up to pure human myofibroblasts cultures. These human aortic myofibroblasts cultures (1.5x106cells, passage 3) were seeded into 15-cm culture dishes. Cells were cultured with Dulbecco' s modified Eagle's medium supplemented with 1 mM L-ascorbic acid 2-phosphate for 4 weeks to form myofibroblast sheets. The harvested cell sheets were folded to form four-layer sheets. The folded sheets were then framed up and cultured for another 4 weeks. Tissue development was evaluated by biochemical assay and light and electron microscopy. Results: After 4 weeks of culture in ascorbic acid supplemented medium, myofibroblasts formed thin cell sheets in culture dishes. The cell sheets presented in a multi-layered pattern surrounded by extracellular matrices. Cultured for additional 4 weeks on the frames, the folded sheets further developed into more solid and flexible tissues. Light microscopy documented a structure resembling to a native tissue with confluent extracellular matrix. Under transmission electron microscope, viable cells and confluent bundles of striated mature collagen fibers were observed. Hydroxyproline assays showed significant increase of collagen content after culturing on the frames and were 80.5% of that of natural human pericardium. Conclusions: Improved cell culture technique may render human aortic myofibroblasts to a native tissue-like structure. A three-dimensional completely autologous human tissue may be further developed on the base of this structure with no show toxic degradation or inflammatory reactions. Copyright (C) 2000 Elsevier Science B.V.
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