With our ability to incorporate viable cells distributed throughout the scaffold, we are provided a unique, controllable platform to develop a generalized finite deformation framework than can be used to gain an understanding of how the evolving extracellular matrix phase contributes to the construct gross mechanical behavior. The biosynthetic response of microintegrated VSMC’s was investigated low (15%), intermediate (30%), and high (50%) strain groups. These magnitudes were chosen as they correspond to a wide range of NAR deformations and physiologically relevant. A constant, quasi-static strain rate as applied sufficient to obtain a 1 Hz cycle duration. Culture durations of 7, 14, and 21 day time points were used for each strain level to quantify the ECM synthesis capacity of VSMC microintegrated in electrospun PEUU. A static group was also preformed at each time period. Results indicate that VSMC biosynthetic behavior is function of global strain with peaked soluble collagen synthesis was observed in specimens exposed to 30% strain. Our primary goal was to elucidate the mechanical behavior characteristics of the de-novo formed ECM. We determined the matrix mechanical contribution by assuming that the total mechanical response is simply the summation of the individual phases and any potential interactions that might arise between them. We thus quantified the collagen mass fraction and utilized an enzymatic technique to remove the ECM from the constructs, then retested them to obtain the degraded scaffold only responses. Results indicated that the newly formed matrix phase exhibit a highly anisotropic biaxial response, and was over 100 fold stiffer than similar ECM formed using stiff scaffolds previously studied in our lab. Moreover, the formed ECM had predicted mechanical properties similar to glutaraldehyde treated pericardium, a common heart valve biomaterial. Interestingly, peak biosynthetic activity correlates well with in vitro principle strain levels observed in PEUU tri-leaflet valves exposed to native ovine right side pressure. This suggests that physiologic hemodynamic conditions are optimal for the development of robust ECM accretion. To our knowledge, this is the first reported study to consider the effects of large deformation and the corresponding outcomes in terms of ECM mechanical integrity. Furthermore, the results reveal interesting insights into the functional role of the matrix accretion process in engineered tissues.


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  • Accepted: 29 May 2012
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