Recent progress in cell transplantation therapy to repair impaired hearts has encouraged further attempts to bioengineer 3-dimensional (3-D) heart tissue from cultured cardiomyocytes. Cardiac tissue engineering is currently pursued utilizing conventional technology to fabricate 3-D biodegradable scaffolds as a temporary extracellular matrix. By contrast, new methods are now described to fabricate pulsatile cardiac grafts using new technology that layers cell sheets 3-dimensionally. We apply novel cell culture surfaces grafted with temperature-responsive polymer, poly(N-isopropylacrylamide) (PIPAAm), from which confluent cells detach as a cell sheet simply by reducing temperature without any enzymatic treatments. Neonatal rat cardiomyocyte sheets detached from PIPAAm-grafted surfaces were overlaid to construct cardiac grafts. Layered cell sheets began to pulse simultaneously and morphological communication via connexin43 was established between the sheets. When 4 sheets were layered, engineered constructs were macroscopically observed to pulse spontaneously. In vivo, layered cardiomyocyte sheets were transplanted into subcutaneous tissues of nude rats. Three weeks after transplantation, surface electrograms originating from transplanted grafts were detected and spontaneous beating was macroscopically observed. Histological studies showed characteristic structures of heart tissue and multiple neovascularization within contractile tissues. Constructs transplanted into 3-week-old rats exhibited more cardiomyocyte hypertrophy and less connective tissue than those placed into 8-week-old rats. Long-term survival of pulsatile cardiac grafts was confirmed up to 12 weeks. These results demonstrate that electrically communicative pulsatile 3-D cardiac constructs were achieved both in vitro and in vivo by layering cardiomyocyte sheets. Cardiac tissue engineering based on this technology may prove useful for heart model fabrication and cardiovascular tissue repair. The full text of this article is available at http://www.circresaha.org.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine