Journal of Artificial Organs

, Volume 16, Issue 3, pp 294–304 | Cite as

A novel customizable modular bioreactor system for whole-heart cultivation under controlled 3D biomechanical stimulation

  • Jörn HülsmannEmail author
  • Hug Aubin
  • Alexander Kranz
  • Erhardt Godehardt
  • Hiroshi Munakata
  • Hiroyuki Kamiya
  • Mareike Barth
  • Artur Lichtenberg
  • Payam AkhyariEmail author
Original Article


In the last decade, cardiovascular tissue engineering has made great progress developing new strategies for regenerative medicine applications. However, while tissue engineered heart valves are already entering the clinical routine, tissue engineered myocardial substitutes are still restrained to experimental approaches. In contrast to the heart valves, tissue engineered myocardium cannot be repopulated in vivo because of its biological complexity, requiring elaborate cultivation conditions ex vivo. Although new promising approaches—like the whole-heart decellularization concept—have entered the myocardial tissue engineering field, bioreactor technology needed for the generation of functional myocardial tissue still lags behind in the sense of user-friendly, flexible and low cost systems. Here, we present a novel customizable modular bioreactor system that can be used for whole-heart cultivation. Out of a commercially obtainable original equipment manufacturer platform we constructed a modular bioreactor system specifically aimed at the cultivation of decellularized whole-hearts through perfusion and controlled 3D biomechanical stimulation with a simple but highly flexible operation platform based on LabVIEW®. The modular setup not only allows a wide range of variance regarding medium conditioning under controlled 3D myocardial stretching but can also easily be upgraded for e.g. electrophysiological monitoring or stimulation, allowing for a tailor-made low-cost myocardial bioreactor system.


Tissue engineering bioreactors Whole organ tissue engineering Biomechanical stimulation 3D stretching Process control system 



The authors are thankful to Antonio Pinto and Anja Vervoorts for the fruitful discussions and valuable comments throughout the progress of the project. Our very special thanks is due to Mrs. Susanne Bunnenberg for her generous donation that made our project possible in first place. The technical assistance of Gisela Müller and Martina Stuff is highly appreciated.

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Copyright information

© The Japanese Society for Artificial Organs 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  • Jörn Hülsmann
    • 1
    Email author
  • Hug Aubin
    • 1
  • Alexander Kranz
    • 1
  • Erhardt Godehardt
    • 1
  • Hiroshi Munakata
    • 1
    • 2
  • Hiroyuki Kamiya
    • 1
  • Mareike Barth
    • 1
  • Artur Lichtenberg
    • 1
  • Payam Akhyari
    • 1
    Email author
  1. 1.Research Group for Experimental Surgery, Department of Cardiovascular Surgery, Medical FacultyHeinrich Heine University Medical School, Duesseldorf University HospitalDuesseldorfGermany
  2. 2.Division of Cardiovascular Surgery, Department of SurgeryKobe University Graduate School of MedicineKobeJapan

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