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Journal of Long-Term Effects of Medical Implants

ISSN Print: 1050-6934
ISSN Online: 1940-4379

Journal of Long-Term Effects of Medical Implants

DOI: 10.1615/JLongTermEffMedImplants.2015011817
pages 105-134

Application of Hydrogels in Heart Valve Tissue Engineering

Xing Zhang
Department of Bioengineering, Rice University, Houston, TX 77030, USA; Institute of Metal Research, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Shenyang, Liaoning 110016, China
Bin Xu
Department of Bioengineering, Rice University, Houston, TX 77030, USA
Daniel S. Puperi
Department of Bioengineering, Rice University, Houston, TX 77030, USA
Yan Wu
Department of Biomedical Engineering, Duke University, Durham, NC 27708, USA
Jennifer L. West
Department of Biomedical Engineering, Duke University, Durham, NC 27708, USA
K. Jane Grande-Allen
Department of Bioengineering, Rice University, Houston, TX 77030, USA

ABSTRACT

With an increasing number of patients requiring valve replacements, there is heightened interest in advancing heart valve tissue engineering (HVTE) to provide solutions to the many limitations of current surgical treatments. A variety of materials have been developed as scaffolds for HVTE including natural polymers, synthetic polymers, and decellularized valvular matrices. Among them, biocompatible hydrogels are generating growing interest. Natural hydrogels, such as collagen and fibrin, generally show good bioactivity but poor mechanical durability. Synthetic hydrogels, on the other hand, have tunable mechanical properties; however, appropriate cell−matrix interactions are difficult to obtain. Moreover, hydrogels can be used as cell carriers when the cellular component is seeded into the polymer meshes or decellularized valve scaffolds. In this review, we discuss current research strategies for HVTE with an emphasis on hydrogel applications. The physicochemical properties and fabrication methods of these hydrogels, as well as their mechanical properties and bioactivities are described. Performance of some hydrogels including in vitro evaluation using bioreactors and in vivo tests in different animal models are also discussed. For future HVTE, it will be compelling to examine how hydrogels can be constructed from composite materials to replicate mechanical properties and mimic biological functions of the native heart valve.