Heart disease is the leading cause of morbidity and mortality worldwide, and regenerative therapies that replace damaged myocardium could benefit millions of patients annually. The many cell types in the heart, including cardiomyocytes, endothelial cells, vascular smooth muscle cells, pericytes, and cardiac fibroblasts, communicate via intercellular signaling and modulate each other's function. Although much progress has been made in generating cells of the cardiovascular lineage from human pluripotent stem cells, a major challenge now is creating the tissue architecture to integrate a microvascular circulation and afferent arterioles into such an engineered tissue. Recent advances in cardiac and vascular tissue engineering will move us closer to the goal of generating functionally mature tissue. Using the biology of the myocardium as the foundation for designing engineered tissue and addressing the challenges to implantation and integration, we can bridge the gap from bench to bedside for a clinically tractable engineered cardiac tissue.
Keywords: cardiac tissue engineering; cardiovascular regenerative medicine; coronary artery disease; heart failure; microvessel engineering; myocardial infarction; stem cells.