2 November 2008
Tissue engineered grafts may be useful in myocardial repair, however previous scaffolds have been structurally incompatible with recapitulating cardiac anisotropy. Utilizing microfabrication techniques, a novel accordion-like honeycomb microstructure was rendered in poly(glycerol sebacate) to yield porous, elastomeric 3-D scaffolds with controllable stiffness and anisotropy. Accordion-like honeycomb scaffolds with cultured neonatal rat heart cells demonstrated utility via: (1) closely matched mechanical properties compared to native adult rat right ventricular myocardium, with stiffnesses controlled by polymer curing time; (2) heart cell contractility inducible by electric field stimulation with directionally-dependent electrical excitation thresholds (p<0.05); and (3) greater heart cell alignment (p<0.0001) than isotropic control scaffolds. Prototype bilaminar scaffolds with 3-D interconnected pore networks yielded electrically excitable grafts with multi-layered neonatal rat heart cells. Accordion-like honeycombs can thus overcome principal structural-mechanical limitations of previous scaffolds, promoting the formation of grafts with aligned heart cells and mechanical properties more closely resembling native myocardium.