Heart valve engineering: Decellularized aortic homograft seeded with human cardiac stromal cells

Luca Dainese, Anna Guarino, Ilaria Burba, Grazia Esposito, Giulio Pompilio, GianLuca Polvani, Alessandra Rossini

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background and aim of the study: The adult human heart contains a cardiac mesenchymal stromal cell (CStC) population with residual cardiovascular plasticity. The study aim was to investigate the ability of CStCs to populate decellularized aortic homograft leaflets, without mechanical stimulation. Methods: The ability of CStCs to acquire valve endothelial and interstitial cell phenotypes was tested using in vitro assays. First, trypsin-decellularized aortic leaflets were seeded with CStCs under static conditions; tissue section analyses were then performed before and after decellularization, and at 10, 20, and 30 days after reseeding. Results: Following in vitro treatment, the CStCs differentiated along the endothelial lineage, as shown by their capacity to uptake acetylated low-density lipoprotein and to secrete the pro-angiogenic factor, vascular endothelial growth factor. After seeding, CStCs were able to adhere to the leaflet surface, rescuing up to the 90% of the original cell density and expressing the mature endothelial marker, von Willebrandt factor. The CStC supernatants were also positive for matrix metalloprotease-2 (MMP-2), which confirmed the ability of these cells to penetrate within the leaflet structure; this also suggested that CStCs, once engrafted, would contribute to the extracellular matrix turnover. Accordingly, although at a lower efficiency, CStC repopulation was also evident in the inner portions of the leaflet. Conclusion: Seeded CStCs were able to reconstitute, without mechanical stimulation, an endothelial-like layer and to partially infiltrate decellularized homograft leaflets. Hence, CStCs appear to be a potentially useful cell type for engineered heart valves.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)125-134
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Heart Valve Disease
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2012

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine


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