Published: December 2023
Pliable microfibrous, bioresorbable elastomeric heart valve prostheses are investigated in search of sustainable heart valve replacement. These cell-free implants recruit cells and trigger tissue formation on the valves in situ. Our aim is to investigate the behaviour of these heart valve prostheses when exposed to the high-pressure circulation. We conducted a 12-month follow-up study in sheep to evaluate the in vivo functionality and neo-tissue formation of these valves in the aortic position. All valves remained free from endocarditis, thrombotic complications and macroscopic calcifications. Cell colonisation in the leaflets was mainly restricted to the hinge area, while resorption of synthetic fibers was limited. Most valves were pliable and structurally intact (10/15), however, other valves (5/15) showed cusp thickening, retraction or holes in the leaflets. Further research is needed to assess whether in-situ heart valve tissue engineering in the aortic position is possible or whether non-resorbable synthetic pliable prostheses are preferred.
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