Thymus derived mesenchymal stem cells for tissue engineering clinical-grade cardiovascular grafts

Dominga Iacobazzi, Megan Swim, Ambra Albertario, Massimo Caputo, Mohamed Ghorbel

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (Academic Journal)peer-review

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Mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs) are attractive tools for regenerative medicine because of their multidifferentiation potential and immunomodulation capacity. In congenital heart defect surgical correction, replacement grafts lacking growth potential are commonly used. Tissue engineering promises to overcome the limitations of these grafts. In this study, we hypothesized that human thymus-derived MSCs are a suitable tool to tissue engineer a living vascular graft with good integration and patency once implanted in vivo. Human thymus-derived MSCs (hT-MSCs) were identified by the expression of MSC markers and mesenchymal differentiation potential. When cultured onto natural scaffold to produce tissue-engineered graft, hTMSCs exhibited great proliferation potential and the ability to secrete their own extracellular matrix. In addition, when implanted in vivo in a piglet model of left pulmonary grafting, the engineered graft exhibited good integration within the host tissue, indicating potential suitability for corrective cardiovascular surgery. The optimized xeno-free, good manufacturing practices-compliant culture system proved to be optimum for large-scale expansion of hT-MSCs and production of tissue-engineered cardiovascular grafts, without compromising the quality of cells. This study demonstrated the feasibility of engineering clinical-grade living autologous replacement grafts using hT-MSCs and proved the compatibility of these grafts for in vivo implantation in a left pulmonary artery position
Original languageEnglish
JournalTissue Engineering, Part A
Early online date30 Nov 2017
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 30 Nov 2017


  • tissue engineering
  • mesenchymal stem cells
  • GMP grade
  • thymus
  • corrective surgery
  • heart
  • congenital heart defect

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