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Stem Cells International
Volume 2014 (2014), Article ID 434169, 8 pages
Review Article

Strategies Affording Prevascularized Cell-Based Constructs for Myocardial Tissue Engineering

1Department of Biomedical and Neuromotor Sciences (DIBINEM), University of Bologna, Via Irnerio 48, 40126 Bologna, Italy
2BioEngLab, Health Science and Technology, Interdepartmental Center for Industrial Research (HST-CIRI), University of Bologna, 40064 Ozzano Emilia, Italy
3Laboratory of Cellular and Molecular Engineering “Silvio Cavalcanti,” DEI, University of Bologna, 47521 Cesena, Italy

Received 5 July 2013; Accepted 2 December 2013; Published 5 January 2014

Academic Editor: Leonard M. Eisenberg

Copyright © 2014 Claudio Muscari et al. 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.


The production of a functional cardiac tissue to be transplanted in the injured area of the infarcted myocardium represents a challenge for regenerative medicine. Most cell-based grafts are unviable because of inadequate perfusion; therefore, prevascularization might be a suitable approach for myocardial tissue engineering. To this aim, cells with a differentiation potential towards vascular and cardiac muscle phenotypes have been cocultured in 2D or 3D appropriate scaffolds. In addition to these basic approaches, more sophisticated strategies have been followed employing mixed-cell sheets, microvascular modules, and inosculation from vascular explants. Technologies exerting spatial control of vascular cells, such as topographical surface roughening and ordered patterning, represent other ways to drive scaffold vascularization. Finally, microfluidic devices and bioreactors exerting mechanical stress have also been employed for high-throughput scaling-up production in order to accelerate muscle differentiation and speeding the endothelialization process. Future research should address issues such as how to optimize cells, biomaterials, and biochemical components to improve the vascular integration of the construct within the cardiac wall, satisfying the metabolic and functional needs of the myocardial tissue.