Myocardial tissue engineering aims to repair, replace and regenerate damaged cardiac tissue using tissue constructs created ex vivo. This approach may one day provide a full treatment for several cardiac disorders, including congenital diseases or ventricular dysfunction following myocardial infarction. Although the ex vivo construction of a myocardium-like tissue is in many ways challenging, it is nevertheless a pressing objective for cardiac reparative medicine. In the past decade, experimental studies provided compelling evidence of the beneficial effect of isolated cell transplantation to the heart. However, translation to clinical trials was impaired by major drawbacks. Identification of the most appropriate cell source and improvement of the cell engraftment and survival is paramount for cell therapy.

We have developed biodegradable patches to introduce a significant number of living cells into the infarcted area of a cardiac muscle. Using a multidisciplinary approach, we create muscle tissues in vitro by combining cells (skeletal myoblasts, mesenchymal stem cells, neonatal cardiomyocytes) with three-dimensional matrices (natural and synthetic polymers with gel or nanofiberstructure) and applying dynamic culture conditions.

In vivo evaluations of the effect of implantation of the biografts on ventricular function (assessed by echocardiography and ventricular pressure measurement) are performed on a myocardial infracted rat model.

We reported a preventive effect on heart function deterioration after the implantation of a biograft. The mechanism underlying functional improvement could be explained by an indirect paracrine effect of the cardiac biografts on the myocardial contractility. Further investigations are being undertaken to characterise this effect.