Background: Cardiovascular diseases are the major cause of morbidity in developed countries. Currently, the only clinical solution for patients with end-stage heart failure is heart transplantation, which is limited by the scarcity of cardiac donors. Nevertheless, engineering of a functional 3-dimensional cardiac tissue scaffolds that will be delivered to the damaged area, is one of the most promising alternative therapeutic strategies. Electrospinning is simple and controllable process that allows to fabricate fibrous scaffolds. However, electrospinning of extracellular matrix (ECM), which is composed of complex network of proteins and can be secreted from the patient, still remained an unmet challenge.
Methods: In this study we fabricated, electrospun fiber scaffolds, composed of different combinations of ECM and Polycaprolactone (PCL). Scanning electron microscopy (SEM) and uniaxial tensile test were used to investigate scaffolds structure and mechanical properties. The scaffolds were biocompatible and the seeded cardiomyocytes assembled into a functioning tissue.
Results: Compared to synthetic fibrous scaffolds, cardiac cells cultured within ECM scaffolds formed functional tissues, exhibiting significantly improved contraction, higher longitude change and lower excitation threshold of the electrical signal. Fiber analysis by SEM showed an average diameter of 140±11 nm for the different ECM scaffolds. Young’s modulus of ECM scaffolds and their stress-to-break values were higher in comparison to PCL scaffolds.