, Volume 38, Issue 11, pp 3272-3279

Bioreactors for Development of Tissue Engineered Heart Valves

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Millions of people worldwide are diagnosed each year with valvular heart disease, resulting in hundreds of thousands of valve replacement operations. Prosthetic valve replacements are designed to correct narrowing or backflow through the valvular orifice. Although commonly used, these therapies have serious disadvantages including morbidity associated with long-term anticoagulation and limited durability necessitating repeat operations. The ideal substitute would be widely available and technically implantable for most cardiac surgeons, have normal hemodynamic performance, low risk for structural degeneration, thrombo-embolism and endocarditis, and growth potential for pediatric patients. Tissue engineered heart valves hold promise as a viable substitute to outperform existing valve replacements. An essential component to the development of tissue engineered heart valves is a bioreactor. It is inside the bioreactor that the scaffold and cells are gradually conditioned to the biochemical and mechanical environment of the valve to be replaced.

Associate Editor Julia E. Babensee oversaw the review of this article.