About 3,000 individuals in the United States are awaiting a donor heart; worldwide, 22 million individuals are living with heart failure. A bioartificial heart is a theoretical alternative to transplantation or mechanical left ventricular support. Generating a bioartificial heart requires engineering of cardiac architecture, appropriate cellular constituents and pump function. We decellularized hearts by coronary perfusion with detergents, preserved the underlying extracellular matrix, and produced an acellular, perfusable vascular architecture, competent acellular valves and intact chamber geometry. To mimic cardiac cell composition, we reseeded these constructs with cardiac or endothelial cells. To establish function, we maintained eight constructs for up to 28 d by coronary perfusion in a bioreactor that simulated cardiac physiology. By day 4, we observed macroscopic contractions. By day 8, under physiological load and electrical stimulation, constructs could generate pump function (equivalent to about 2% of adult or 25% of 16-week fetal heart function) in a modified working heart preparation.
Bibliographical noteFunding Information:
We thank S. Keirstead and D. Lowe for access to electromechanical stimulation equipment and guidance; J. Sedgewick and J. Oja of the Biomedical Image Processing Laboratory at the University of Minnesota, Minneapolis, for access to photographic equipment and technical support; and the staff of the University of Minnesota CharFac facility, especially A. Ressler, for TEM assistance. This study was supported by a Faculty Research Development Grant to H.C.O. and D.A.T. from the Academic Health Center, University of Minnesota, Minneapolis, and by funding from the Center for Cardiovascular Repair, University of Minnesota, and the Medtronic Foundation to D.A.T.
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