In situ cardiovascular tissue-engineering can potentially address the shortcomings of the current replacement therapies, in particular, their inability to grow and remodel. In native tissues, it is widely accepted that physiological growth and remodelling occur to maintain a homeostatic mechanical state to conserve its function, regardless of changes in the mechanical environment. A similar homeostatic state should be reached for tissue-engineered (TE) prostheses to ensure proper functioning. For in situ tissue-engineering approaches obtaining such a state greatly relies on the initial scaffold design parameters. In this study, it is investigated if the simple scaffold design parameter initial thickness, influences the emergence of a mechanical and geometrical equilibrium state in in vitro TE constructs, which resemble thin cardiovascular tissues such as heart valves and arteries. Towards this end, two sample groups with different initial thicknesses of myofibroblast-seeded polycaprolactone-bisurea constructs were cultured for three weeks under dynamic loading conditions, while tracking geometrical and mechanical changes temporally using non-destructive ultrasound imaging. A mechanical equilibrium was reached in both groups, although at different magnitudes of the investigated mechanical quantities. Interestingly, a geometrically stable state was only established in the thicker constructs, while the thinner constructs’ length continuously increased. This demonstrates that reaching geometrical and mechanical stability in TE constructs is highly dependent on functional scaffold design.
Full Access Link: Journal of the Royal Society Interface