Engineered Heart Tissue Boosts Heart Function In Mice

Heart tissue grown on a 3D printed scaffold reduces heart failure and improves heart health

Damage to the heart following a heart attack often leads a section of dead, scarred tissue. This often severely inhibits heart function and makes it all the more likely an individual will have a future, fatal heart attack event. Tissue engineering is one hopeful treatment route, and researchers are testing novel approaches on mice in the pursuit of human applications.

"Our novel technique is the first to achieve resolution of 1 micrometer or less" 

Copying structure

 In order to grow heart tissue mirroring native heart tissue, researchers scanned the extracellular matrix of mice myocardial tissue. They then used this 3D scan to create a gelatin scaffold using 3D printing and a mixture of photoreactive gelatin. This scaffold structure was then seeded with around 50000 cells, consisting of cardiomyocytes, smooth muscle cells and endothelial cells. These were all cultured from human induced pluripotent stem cells (hiPSCs). This tiny scaffold was around 4 thousandths of an inch thick and began beating on the same day as seeding. 

Surprisingly, the unique scaffold structure had led to all of the muscle cells to align in the same manner, mirroring real heart tissue. More importantly, electrical activity was smooth and formed health contraction activity. 

Hope for the future

Two of these tiny patches were grafted to mice hearts, and the results were encouraging. Heightened cell proliferation, reduced cell death, improved blood supply and improved cardiac function were recorded.

"Thus, the hiPSC-derived cardiac muscle patches produced for this report may represent an important step toward the clinical use of 3-D-printing technology. To our knowledge, this is the first time modulated raster scanning has ever been successfully used to control the fabrication of a tissue-engineered scaffold, and consequently, our results are particularly relevant for applications that require the fibrillar and mesh-like structures present in cardiac tissue"

Read more at MedicalXpress