Geometry influences inflammatory host cell response and remodeling in tissue-engineered heart valves in-vivo

Sarah E. Motta, Emanuela S. Fioretta, Valentina Lintas, Petra E. Dijkman, Monika Hilbe, Laura Frese, Nikola Cesarovic, Sandra Loerakker, Frank P. T. Baaijens, Volkmar Falk, Simon P. Hoerstrup & Maximilian Y. Emmert

Published: December 2020


Regenerative tissue-engineered matrix-based heart valves (TEM-based TEHVs) may become an alternative to currently-used bioprostheses for transcatheter valve replacement. We recently identified TEM-based TEHVs-geometry as one key-factor guiding their remodeling towards successful long-term performance or failure. While our first-generation TEHVs, with a simple, non-physiological valve-geometry, failed over time due to leaflet-wall fusion phenomena, our second-generation TEHVs, with a computational modeling-inspired design, showed native-like remodeling resulting in long-term performance. However, a thorough understanding on how TEHV-geometry impacts the underlying host cell response, which in return determines tissue remodeling, is not yet fully understood. To assess that, we here present a comparative samples evaluation derived from our first- and second-generation TEHVs. We performed an in-depth qualitative and quantitative (immuno-)histological analysis focusing on key-players of the inflammatory and remodeling cascades (M1/M2 macrophages, α-SMA+– and endothelial cells). First-generation TEHVs were prone to chronic inflammation, showing a high presence of macrophages and α-SMA+-cells, hinge-area thickening, and delayed endothelialization. Second-generation TEHVs presented with negligible amounts of macrophages and α-SMA+-cells, absence of hinge-area thickening, and early endothelialization. Our results suggest that TEHV-geometry can significantly influence the host cell response by determining the infiltration and presence of macrophages and α-SMA+-cells, which play a crucial role in orchestrating TEHV remodeling.

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