Fibrin is a promising scaffold material for tissue engineered heart valves, as it is completely biological, allows for engineered matrix alignment, and is able to be degraded and replaced with collagen by entrapped cells. However, the initial fibrin matrix is mechanically weak, and extensive in vitro culture is required to create valves with sufficient mechanical strength and stiffness for in vivo function. Culture in bioreactor systems, which provide cyclic stretching and enhance nutrient transport, has been shown to increase collagen production by cells entrapped in a fibrin scaffold, accelerating strengthening of the tissue and reducing the required culture time. In the present work, steps were taken to improve bioreactor culture conditions with the goal of accelerating collagen production in fibrin-based tissue engineered heart valves using two approaches: (i) optimizing the cyclic stretching protocol and (ii) developing a novel bioreactor system that permits transmural and lumenal flow of culture medium for improved nutrient transport. The results indicated that incrementally increasing strain amplitude cyclic stretching with small, frequent increments in strain amplitude was optimal for collagen production in our system. In addition, proof of concept studies were performed in the novel bioreactor system and increased cellularity and collagen deposition near the lumenal surface of the tissue were observed.
University of Minnesota Ph.D. dissertation.May 2015. Major: Material Science and Engineering. Advisor: Robert Tranquillo. 1 computer file (PDF); xii, 133 pages.
Bioreactor Conditioning for Accelerated Remodeling of Fibrin-Based Tissue Engineered Heart Valves.
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