Due to the increasing number of heart valve diseases, there is an urgent clinical need for off-the-shelf tissue engineered heart valves. While significant progress has been made toward improving the design and performance of both mechanical and tissue engineered heart valves (TEHVs), a human implantable, functional, and viable TEHV has remained elusive. In animal studies so far, the implanted TEHVs have failed to survive more than a few months after transplantation due to insufficient mechanical properties. Therefore, the success of future heart valve tissue engineering approaches depends on the ability of the TEHV to mimic and maintain the functional and mechanical properties of the native heart valves. However, aside from some tensile quasistatic data and flexural or bending properties, detailed mechanical properties such as dynamic fatigue, creep behavior, and viscoelastic properties of heart valves are still poorly understood. The need for better understanding and more detailed characterization of mechanical properties of tissue engineered, as well as native heart valve constructs is thus evident. In the current review we aim to present an overview of the current understanding of the mechanical properties of human and common animal model heart valves. The relevant data on both native and tissue engineered heart valve constructs have been compiled and analyzed to help in defining the target ranges for mechanical properties of TEHV constructs, particularly for the aortic and the pulmonary valves. We conclude with a summary of perspectives on the future work on better understanding of the mechanical properties of TEHV constructs.
Keywords: Aortic and pulmonary heart valves; Biomechanics; Mechanical properties; Tissue engineering.
© 2013 Published by Elsevier Ltd.