Fabrication and In Vitro Characterization of a Tissue Engineered PCL-PLLA Heart Valve.
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Heart valve diseases are among the leading causes of cardiac failure around the globe. Nearly 90,000 heart valve replacements occur in the USA annually. Currently, available options for heart valve replacement include bioprosthetic and mechanical valves, both of which have severe limitations. Bioprosthetic valves can last for only 10-20 years while patients with mechanical valves always require blood-thinning medications throughout the remainder of the patient's life. Tissue engineering has emerged as a promising solution for the development of a viable, biocompatible and durable heart valve; however, a human implantable tissue engineered heart valve is yet to be achieved. In this study, a tri-leaflet heart valve structure is developed using electrospun polycaprolactone (PCL) and poly L-lactic acid (PLLA) scaffolds, and a set of in vitro testing protocol has been developed for routine manufacturing of tissue engineered heart valves. Stress-strain curves were obtained for mechanical characterization of different valves. The performances of the developed valves were hemodynamically tested using a pulse duplicator, and an echocardiography machine. Results confirmed the superiority of the PCL-PLLA heart valve compared to pure PCL or pure PLLA. The developed in vitro test protocol involving pulse duplicator and echocardiography tests have enormous potential for routine application in tissue engineering of heart valves.
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