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Polymeric scaffolds for cardiac tissue engineering: requirements and fabrication technologies



Cardiac tissue engineering (TE) is an emerging field, whose main goal is the development of innovative strategies for the treatment of heart diseases, with the aim of overcoming the drawbacks of traditional therapies. One of these strategies involves the implantation of three-dimensional matrices (scaffolds) capable of supporting tissue formation. Scaffolds designed and fabricated for such application should meet several requirements, concerning both the scaffold-forming materials and the properties of the scaffold itself. A scaffold for cardiac TE should be biocompatible and biodegradable, mimic the properties of the native cardiac tissue, provide a mechanical support to the regenerating heart and possess an interconnected porous structure to favour cell migration, nutrient and oxygen diffusion, and waste removal. Moreover, the mimesis of myocardium characteristic anisotropy is attracting increasing interest to provide engineered constructs with the possibility to be structurally and mechanically integrated in native tissue. Several conventional and non-conventional fabrication techniques have been explored in the literature to produce polymeric scaffolds meeting all these requirements. This review describes these techniques, with a focus on their advantages and disadvantages, and their flexibility, with the final goal of providing the reader with the primal knowledge necessary to develop an effective strategy in cardiac TE. © 2013 Society of Chemical Industry