A major drawback of mechanical and prosthetic heart valves is their inability to permit somatic growth. By contrast, tissue-engineered pulmonary valves potentially have the capacity to remodel and integrate with the patient. For this purpose, adult stem cells may be suitable. Previously, human periodontal ligament cells (PDLs) have been explored as a reliable and robust progenitor cell source for cardiac muscle regeneration (Pelaez, D. Electronic Thesis and Dissertation Database, Coral Gables, FL, May 2011). Here, we investigate the potential of PDLs to support the valve lineage, specifically the concomitant differentiation to both endothelial cell (EC) and smooth muscle cell (SMC) types. We were able to successfully promote PDL differentiation to both SMC and EC phenotypes through a combination of stimulatory approaches using biochemical and mechanical flow conditioning (steady shear stress of 1 dyne/cm2), with flow-based mechanical conditioning having a predominant effect on PDL differentiation, particularly to ECs; in addition, strong expression of the marker FZD2 and an absence of the marker MLC1F point toward a unique manifestation of smooth muscle by PDLs after undergoing steady-flow mechanical conditioning alone, possible by only the heart valve and pericardium phenotypes. It was also determined that steady flow (which was performed using a physiologically relevant [for heart valves] magnitude of ∼5-6 dynes/cm2) augmented the synthesis of the extracellular matrix collagen proteins. We conclude that under steady-flow dynamic culture environments, human PDLs can differentiate to heterogeneous cell populations that are relevant to heart valve tissue engineering. Further exploration of human PDLs for this purpose is thus warranted.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Biomedical Engineering