Prediction of matrix-to-cell stress transfer in heart valve tissues


Non-linear and anisotropic heart valve leaflet tissue mechanics manifest principally from the stratification, orientation, and inhomogeneity of their collagenous microstructures. Disturbance of the native collagen fiber network has clear consequences for valve and leaflet tissue mechanics and presumably, by virtue of their intimate embedment, on the valvular interstitial cell stress–strain state and concomitant phenotype. In the current study, a set of virtual biaxial stretch experiments were conducted on porcine pulmonary valve leaflet tissue photomicrographs via an image-based finite element approach. Stress distribution evolution during diastolic valve closure was predicted at both the tissue and cellular levels. Orthotropic material properties consistent with distinct stages of diastolic loading were applied. Virtual experiments predicted tissue- and cellular-level stress fields, providing insight into how matrix-to-cell stress transfer may be influenced by the inhomogeneous collagen fiber architecture, tissue anisotropic material properties, and the cellular distribution within the leaflet tissue. To the best of the authors’ knowledge, this is the first study reporting on the evolution of stress fields at both the tissue and cellular levels in valvular tissue and thus contributes toward refining our collective understanding of valvular tissue micromechanics while providing a computational tool enabling the further study of valvular cell–matrix interactions.

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The studies presented herein were supported by start-up funds provided by the North Carolina State University Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering.

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The studies presented herein were supported by start-up funds provided by the North Carolina State University Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering.

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Correspondence to Hsiao-Ying Shadow Huang.

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Huang, S., Huang, HY.S. Prediction of matrix-to-cell stress transfer in heart valve tissues. J Biol Phys 41, 9–22 (2015).

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  • Finite element method
  • Heart valve tissues
  • Biomechanics
  • Stress analysis
  • Collagen fiber orientation
  • Tissue engineering