Hemodynamic stimulation of native and engineered heart valves

Heart valve structural composition and functional performance evolves over fetal and childhood development. How specific biomechanical forces promote proper valve growth, remodeling, and strengthening is poorly understood. Most of what is known is gathered from analysis of excised valves, but the performance of the living valve in different biomechanical environments is not well understood. We have developed a novel bioreactor technology capable of subjecting valved conduits to arbitrary ventricular and aortic pressure waveforms that mimic age and health specific conditions. We are studying how these parameters control valve tissue growth and remodeling in vitro, and whether engineered valves respond similarly to these conditions. These results will inform and validate hemodynamic stimulation regimens and functional targets for engineered valved conduits pre-implantation. This technology also enables accelerated pre-clinical evaluation of novel surgical approaches for living valve replacement before their evaluation in animal models.