Anisotropic silk biomaterials containing cardiac extracellular matrix for cardiac tissue engineering

Biomed Mater. 2015 Mar 31;10(3):034105. doi: 10.1088/1748-6041/10/3/034105.


Cardiac malformations and disease are the leading causes of death in the United States in live-born infants and adults, respectively. In both of these cases, a decrease in the number of functional cardiomyocytes often results in improper growth of heart tissue, wound healing complications, and poor tissue repair. The field of cardiac tissue engineering seeks to address these concerns by developing cardiac patches created from a variety of biomaterial scaffolds to be used in surgical repair of the heart. These scaffolds should be fully degradable biomaterial systems with tunable properties such that the materials can be altered to meet the needs of both in vitro culture (e.g. disease modeling) and in vivo application (e.g. cardiac patch). Current platforms do not utilize both structural anisotropy and proper cell-matrix contacts to promote functional cardiac phenotypes and thus there is still a need for critically sized scaffolds that mimic both the structural and adhesive properties of native tissue. To address this need, we have developed a silk-based scaffold platform containing cardiac tissue-derived extracellular matrix (cECM). These silk-cECM composite scaffolds have tunable architectures, degradation rates, and mechanical properties. Subcutaneous implantation in rats demonstrated that addition of the cECM to aligned silk scaffold led to 99% endogenous cell infiltration and promoted vascularization of a critically sized scaffold (10 × 5 × 2.5 mm) after 4 weeks in vivo. In vitro, silk-cECM scaffolds maintained the HL-1 atrial cardiomyocytes and human embryonic stem cell-derived cardiomyocytes and promoted a more functional phenotype in both cell types. This class of hybrid silk-cECM anisotropic scaffolds offers new opportunities for developing more physiologically relevant tissues for cardiac repair and disease modeling.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Anisotropy
  • Biocompatible Materials / chemistry
  • Cells, Cultured
  • Equipment Design
  • Equipment Failure Analysis
  • Extracellular Matrix / chemistry*
  • Materials Testing
  • Myocardium / chemistry
  • Myocytes, Cardiac / cytology*
  • Myocytes, Cardiac / physiology*
  • Rats
  • Rats, Sprague-Dawley
  • Silk / chemistry*
  • Tissue Engineering / instrumentation*
  • Tissue Engineering / methods
  • Tissue Scaffolds*


  • Biocompatible Materials
  • Silk