Instructive biomaterials for myocardial regeneration and repair Academic Article uri icon


  • Tissue regeneration following myocardial infarction (MI) represents a major challenge in cardiovascular therapy, as current clinical approaches are limited in their ability to regenerate or replace damaged myocardium. The lack of clinically-relevant cell sources, and the growing importance of paracrine effects of cell therapy, mediated by soluble growth factors and cytokines, favors the use of acellular biomaterials for myocardial tissue engineering. While the efficacy of acellular scaffold-based approaches have already been shown, applying the biomaterial in an injectable form represents a more clinically-appealing strategy, where only minimally invasive interventions are required to deliver the biopolymer solution. However, in order to enhance the passive effects mediated by the injected biomaterial on infarct stabilization and mechanical support, and achieve long-term functional improvement and regeneration of the cardiac muscle, the combination with controlled spatio-temporal delivery of bioactive molecules is required. Biomaterial-based growth factor delivery has already been shown to improve therapeutic outcome after MI. Affinity-binding alginate represents an example of such a system. This strategy has promising potential for myocardial repair and regeneration, as it provides mechanical support conferred by in situ hydrogel formation, and can affect multiple processes of myocardial regeneration by controlled delivery of multiple proteins. In conclusion, as the development of novel polymer schemes and approaches continues, the application of biomaterials that can instruct a favorable tissue reconstruction, facilitate self-repair, tissue salvage and regeneration, represents a platform for future modifications and combinations (for instance, with cell therapy). Hopefully, such efforts will have major clinical consequences on the treatment of MI and improve long-term outcome in heart failure patients.

publication date

  • January 1, 2011