The living aortic valve: From molecules to function

Adrian H Chester, Ismail El-Hamamsy, Jonathan T Butcher, Najma Latif, Sergio Bertazzo, Magdi H Yacoub

Abstract


The aortic valve lies in a unique hemodynamic environment, one characterized by a range of stresses (shear stress, bending forces, loading forces and strain) that vary in intensity and direction throughout the cardiac cycle. Yet, despite its changing environment, the aortic valve opens and closes over 100,000 times a day and, in the majority of human beings, will function normally over a lifespan of 70–90 years. Until relatively recently heart valves were considered passive structures that play no active role in the functioning of a valve, or in the maintenance of its integrity and durability. However, through clinical experience and basic research the aortic valve can now be characterized as a living, dynamic organ with the capacity to adapt to its complex mechanical and biomechanical environment through active and passive communication between its constituent parts. The clinical relevance of a living valve substitute in patients requiring aortic valve replacement has been confirmed. This highlights the importance of using tissue engineering to develop heart valve substitutes containing living cells which have the ability to assume the complex functioning of the native valve. 


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Copyright (c) 2017 Adrian H Chester, Ismail El-Hamamsy, Jonathan T Butcher, Najma Latif, Sergio Bertazzo, Magdi H Yacoub

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