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Journal of Healthcare Engineering
Volume 4, Issue 3, Pages 329-370
Research Article

Bioreactors as Engineering Support to Treat Cardiac Muscle and Vascular Disease

Diana Massai, Giulia Cerino, Diego Gallo, Francesco Pennella, Marco A. Deriu, Andres Rodriguez, Franco M. Montevecchi, Cristina Bignardi, Alberto Audenino, and Umberto Morbiducci

Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering, Politecnico di Torino, Turin, Italy

Received 1 November 2012; Accepted 1 March 2013

Copyright © 2013 Hindawi Publishing Corporation. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


Cardiovascular disease is the leading cause of morbidity and mortality in the Western World. The inability of fully differentiated, load-bearing cardiovascular tissues to in vivo regenerate and the limitations of the current treatment therapies greatly motivate the efforts of cardiovascular tissue engineering to become an effective clinical strategy for injured heart and vessels. For the effective production of organized and functional cardiovascular engineered constructs in vitro, a suitable dynamic environment is essential, and can be achieved and maintained within bioreactors. Bioreactors are technological devices that, while monitoring and controlling the culture environment and stimulating the construct, attempt to mimic the physiological milieu. In this study, a review of the current state of the art of bioreactor solutions for cardiovascular tissue engineering is presented, with emphasis on bioreactors and biophysical stimuli adopted for investigating the mechanisms influencing cardiovascular tissue development, and for eventually generating suitable cardiovascular tissue replacements.