Author(s): Schmidt D, Mol A, Breymann C, Achermann J, Odermatt B,
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Abstract BACKGROUND: Heart valve tissue engineering is a promising strategy to overcome the lack of autologous growing replacements, particularly for the repair of congenital malformations. Here, we present a novel concept using human prenatal progenitor cells as new and exclusive cell source to generate autologous implants ready for use at birth. METHODS AND RESULTS: Human fetal mesenchymal progenitors were isolated from routinely sampled prenatal chorionic villus specimens and expanded in vitro. A portion was cryopreserved. After phenotyping and genotyping, cells were seeded onto synthetic biodegradable leaflet scaffolds (n=12) and conditioned in a bioreactor. After 21 days, leaflets were endothelialized with umbilical cord blood-derived endothelial progenitor cells and conditioned for additional 7 days. Resulting tissues were analyzed by histology, immunohistochemistry, biochemistry (amounts of extracellular matrix, DNA), mechanical testing, and scanning electron microscopy (SEM) and were compared with native neonatal heart valve leaflets. Fresh and cryopreserved cells showed comparable myofibroblast-like phenotypes. Genotyping confirmed their fetal origin. Neo-tissues exhibited organization, cell phenotypes, extracellular matrix production, and DNA content comparable to their native counterparts. Leaflet surfaces were covered with functional endothelia. SEM showed cellular distribution throughout the polymer and smooth surfaces. Mechanical profiles approximated those of native heart valves. CONCLUSIONS: Prenatal fetal progenitors obtained from routine chorionic villus sampling were successfully used as an exclusive, new cell source for the engineering of living heart valve leaflets. This concept may enable autologous replacements with growth potential ready for use at birth. Combined with the use of cell banking technology, this approach may be applied also for postnatal applications.
This article was published in Circulation
and referenced in Journal of Tissue Science & Engineering