Functional living trileaflet heart valves grown in vitro

Simon P. Hoerstrup*, Ralf Sodian, Sabine Daebritz, Jun Wang, Emile A. Bacha, David P. Martin, Adrian M. Moran, Kristine J. Guleserian, Jason S. Sperling, Sunjay Kaushal, Joseph P. Vacanti, Frederick J. Schoen, John E. Mayer

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

574 Scopus citations


Background - Previous tissue engineering approaches to create heart valves have been limited by the structural immaturity and mechanical properties of the valve constructs. This study used an in vitro pulse duplicator system to provide a biomimetic environment during tissue formation to yield more mature implantable heart valves derived from autologous tissue. Methods and Results - Trileaflet heart valves were fabricated from novel bioabsorbable polymers and sequentially seeded with autologous ovine myofibroblasts and endothelial cells. The constructs were grown for 14 days in a pulse duplicator in vitro system under gradually increasing flow and pressure conditions. By use of cardiopulmonary bypass, the native pulmonary leaflets were resected, and the valve constructs were implanted into 6 lambs (weight 19±2.8 kg). All animals had uneventful postoperative courses, and the valves were explanted at 1 day and at 4, 6, 8, 16, and 20 weeks. Echocardiography demonstrated mobile functioning leaflets without stenosis, thrombus, or aneurysm up to 20 weeks. Histology (16 and 20 weeks) showed uniform layered cuspal tissue with endothelium. Environmental scanning electron microscopy revealed a confluent smooth valvular surface. Mechanical properties were comparable to those of native tissue at 20 weeks. Complete degradation of the polymers occurred by 8 weeks. Extracellular matrix content (collagen, glycosaminoglycans, and elastin) and DNA content increased to levels of native tissue and higher at 20 weeks. Conclusions - This study demonstrates in vitro generation of implantable complete living heart valves based on a biomimetic flow culture system. These autologous tissue-engineered valves functioned up to 5 months and resembled normal heart valves in microstructure, mechanical properties, and extracellular matrix formation.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)III44-III49
Issue number19
StatePublished - Nov 7 2000
Externally publishedYes


  • Cells
  • Prosthesis
  • Tissue
  • Valves

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine
  • Physiology (medical)


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