Channelled scaffolds for engineering myocardium with mechanical stimulation


Gordana Vunjak-Novakovic, Department of Biomedical Engineering, Columbia University, 622 west 168th Street, Vanderbilt Clinic VC12-234, New York, NY, 10032, USA.


The characteristics of the matrix (composition, structure, mechanical properties) and external culture environment (pulsatile perfusion, physical stimulation) of the heart are important characteristics in the engineering of functional myocardial tissue. This study reports on the development of chitosan-collagen scaffolds with micropores and an array of parallel channels (~ 200 µm in diameter) that were specifically designed for cardiac tissue engineering using mechanical stimulation. The scaffolds were designed to have similar structural and mechanical properties of those of native heart matrix. Scaffolds were seeded with neonatal rat heart cells and subjected to dynamic tensile stretch using a custom designed bioreactor. The channels enhanced oxygen transport and facilitated the establishment of cell connections within the construct. The myocardial patches (14 mm in diameter, 1–2 mm thick) consisted of metabolically active cells that began to contract synchronously after 3 days of culture. Mechanical stimulation with high tensile stress promoted cell alignment, elongation, and expression of connexin-43 (Cx-43). This study confirms the importance of scaffold design and mechanical stimulation for the formation of contractile cardiac constructs. Copyright © 2011 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.