Bioreactors for cardiovascular cell and tissue growth: a review

Ann Biomed Eng. 2003 Oct;31(9):1017-30. doi: 10.1114/1.1603260.


Heart disease is a major cause of death in the Western world. In the past three decades there has been a number of improvements in artificial devices and surgical techniques for cardiovascular disease; however, there is still a need for novel devices, especially for those individuals who cannot receive conventional therapy. The major disadvantage of current artificial devices lies in the fact that they cannot grow, remodel, or repair in vivo. Tissue engineering offers the possibility of developing a biological substitute material in vitro with the inherent mechanical, chemical, biological, and morphological properties required in vivo, on an individual patient basis. In order to develop a true biological cardiovascular device a dynamic physiological environment needs to be created. One approach that employs the use of a simulated biological environment is a bioreactor in which the in vivo biomechanical and biochemical conditions are created in vitro for functional tissue development. A review of the current state of the art bioreactors for the generation of tissue engineered cardiovascular devices is presented in this study. The effect of the simulated physiological environment of the bioreactor on tissue development is examined with respect to the materials properties of vascular grafts, heart valves, and cardiac muscles developed in these bioreactors.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Arteries / growth & development
  • Biomimetics / instrumentation
  • Biomimetics / methods
  • Biomimetics / trends
  • Bioreactors*
  • Cell Culture Techniques / instrumentation*
  • Cell Culture Techniques / methods
  • Cell Culture Techniques / trends
  • Coronary Vessels / growth & development*
  • Heart / growth & development*
  • Heart Valves / growth & development
  • Humans
  • Myocytes, Cardiac / physiology*
  • Tissue Engineering / instrumentation*
  • Tissue Engineering / methods*
  • Tissue Engineering / trends