Non-physiologic Bioreactor Processing Conditions for Heart Valve Tissue Engineering.

Document Type


Publication Date



DOI: 10.1007/s13239-019-00438-x


PURPOSE: Conventional methods of seeding decellularized heart valves for heart valve tissue engineering have led to inconsistent results in interstitial cellular repopulation, particularly of the distal valve leaflet, and notably distinct from documented re-endothelialization. The use of bioreactor conditioning mimicking physiologic parameters has been well explored but cellular infiltration remains challenging. Non-characteristic, non-physiologic conditioning parameters within a bioreactor, such as hypoxia and cyclic chamber pressure, may be used to increase the cellular infiltration leading to increased recellularization.

METHODS: To investigate the effects of novel and perhaps non-intuitive bioreactor conditioning parameters, ovine aortic heart valves were seeded with mesenchymal stem cells and cultured in one of four environments: hypoxia and high cyclic pressures (120 mmHg), normoxia and high cyclic pressures, hypoxia and negative cyclic pressures (- 20 mmHg), and normoxia and negative cyclic pressures. Analysis included measurements of cellular density, cell phenotype, and biochemical concentrations.

RESULTS: The results revealed that the bioreactor conditioning parameters influenced the degree of recellularization. Groups that implemented hypoxic conditioning exhibited increased cellular infiltration into the valve leaflet tissue compared to normoxic conditioning, while pressure conditioning did not have a significant effect of recellularization. Protein expression across all groups was similar, exhibiting a stem cell and valve interstitial cell phenotype. Biochemical analysis of the extracellular matrix was similar between all groups.

CONCLUSION: These results suggest the use of non-physiologic bioreactor conditioning parameters can increase in vitro recellularization of tissue engineered heart valve leaflets. Particularly, hypoxic culture was found to increase the cellular infiltration. Therefore, bioreactor conditioning of tissue engineered constructs need not always mimic physiologic conditions, and it is worth investigating novel or uncharacteristic culture conditions as they may benefit aspects of tissue culture.

Journal Title

Cardiovasc Eng Technol





First Page


Last Page


MeSH Keywords

Animals; Aortic Valve; Bioprosthesis; Bioreactors; Cell Hypoxia; Cells, Cultured; Extracellular Matrix; Heart Valve Prosthesis; Humans; Mesenchymal Stem Cells; Phenotype; Pressure; Sheep, Domestic; Tissue Culture Techniques; Tissue Engineering


Bioreactor conditioning; Heart valve; Hypoxia; Tissue engineering

Library Record