Current heart valve prostheses have limitations that include durability, inability to grow in pediatric patients, and lifelong anticoagulation. Transcatheter aortic valve replacements are minimally invasive procedures, and therefore have emerged as an alternative to traditional valve prostheses. In this experiment, the regenerative capacity of potential tissue engineered transcatheter valve scaffolds (1) acellular porcine pericardium and (2) mesenchymal stem cell-seeded acellular porcine pericardium were compared to native porcine aortic valve cusps in a rat subcutaneous model for up to 8 weeks. Immunohistochemistry, extracellular matrix evaluation, and tissue biomechanics were evaluated on the explanted tissue. Acellular valve scaffolds expressed CD163, CD31, alpha smooth muscle actin, and vimentin at each time point indicating host cell recellularization; however, MSC-seeded tissue showed greater recellularization. Inflammatory cells were observed with CD3 biomarker in native porcine pericardial tissue throughout the study. No inflammation was observed in either acellular or MSC-seeded scaffolds. There was no mechanical advantage observed in MSC-seeded tissue; however after the first week post-explant, there was a decrease in mechanical properties in all groups (p < 0.05). MSC-seeded and acellular porcine pericardium expressed decreased inflammatory response and better host-cell recellularization compared to the native porcine aortic valve cusps.
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