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.
Authors: 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
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