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Vascularisation for cardiac tissue engineering: the extracellular matrix

Journal: Thrombosis and Haemostasis
ISSN: 0340-6245

Theme Issue
Frontiers in Cardiovascular Research

Issue: 2015: 113/3 (Mar) pp. 437–670
Pages: 532-547

Vascularisation for cardiac tissue engineering: the extracellular matrix

Theme Issue Article for Theme Issue "Frontiers in Cardiovascular Research"

C. Patra (1), A. R. Boccaccini (2), F. B. Engel (3)

(1) Department of Zoology, Agharkar Research Institute, Gopal Ganesh Agarkar Road, Pune, India; (2) Institute of Biomaterials, Department of Materials Science and Engineering, University of Erlangen-Nuremberg, Erlangen, Germany; (3) Experimental Renal and Cardiovascular Research, Department of Nephropathology, Institute of Pathology, Friedrich-Alexander-Universität (FAU) Erlangen-Nürnberg, Erlangen, Germany


Tissue engineering, heart, extracellular matrix, vascularisation, coronary vasculature


Cardiovascular diseases present a major socio-economic burden. One major problem underlying most cardiovascular and congenital heart diseases is the irreversible loss of contractile heart muscle cells, the cardiomyocytes. To reverse damage incurred by myocardial infarction or by surgical correction of cardiac malformations, the loss of cardiac tissue with a thickness of a few millimetres needs to be compensated. A promising approach to this issue is cardiac tissue engineering. In this review we focus on the problem of in vitro vascularisation as implantation of cardiac patches consisting of more than three layers of cardiomyocytes (> 100 µm thick) already results in necrosis. We explain the need for vascularisation and elaborate on the importance to include non-myocytes in order to generate functional vascularised cardiac tissue. We discuss the potential of extracellular matrix molecules in promoting vascularisation and introduce nephronectin as an example of a new promising candidate. Finally, we discuss current biomaterial-based approaches including micropatterning, electrospinning, 3D micro-manufacturing technology and porogens. Collectively, the current literature supports the notion that cardiac tissue engineering is a realistic option for future treatment of paediatric and adult patients with cardiac disease.

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