Cardiac muscle tissue engineering focuses on creating functional cardiac muscle constructs. The human heart cannot regenerate because adult cardiac myocytes are terminally differentiated and cannot replicate after injury. A major breakthrough would be the ability to use these tissue engineered cardiac muscle constructs for replacement therapy for individuals with congestive heart failure and myocardial infarction. Heart failure and myocardial infarction represent the main causes of death in the United States . The best solution to individuals with congestive heart failure and myocardial infarction is heart transplantation but there is a lack of donors. Medication and mechanical devices provide temporary alternatives. However, developing a functional tissue engineered cardiac muscle construct as an alternative treatment to replace dead or severely damaged cardiac tissue will allow for regeneration of the injured heart to restore or enhance the contractile function of the failing myocardium.
The current strategies for developing these constructs are: (1) seeding cells on synthetic or biological matrices, (2) primarily soluble matrices, such as collagen and extracellular matrix (ECM) components, to entrap and aggregate cells, and (3) stacking cell monolayers to form a multi-layered heart muscle construct. There have been remarkable research achievements in constructing tissue engineered cardiac muscle replacements: Artificial Myocardial Tissue, Engineered Heart Tissue, and Cardiomyocyte Sheet Layers. However, the area of cardiac muscle tissue engineering still faces significant difficulties and challenges. Nevertheless, current research achievements show that these replacements are realistic and represent a promising alternative to heart transplantation and other surgical interventions to repair and restore an unhealthy heart.
Engineered Heart Tissue