Tricuspid valve biopsy: A potential source of cardiac myofibroblast cells for tissue-engineered cardiac valves

Mary S. Maish, Diane Hoffman-Kim, Paula M. Krueger, Jason M. Souza, James J. Harper, Richard A. Hopkins*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

34 Scopus citations


Background and aims of the study: As progress is made in the development of a tissue-engineered cardiac valve, the need for a reliable cell source is particularly important. A technique has been developed for the reliable biopsy of tricuspid valve leaflets. Expanding the harvested cells in culture is feasible and provides a source of leaflet cells that are structurally and functionally similar to the pulmonary and aortic valve leaflet cells that they may replace. Methods: Thirteen sheep underwent tricuspid valve biopsy. Transthoracic echocardiography (TTE) was performed to evaluate function and guide the subsequent biopsy. Myofibroblasts were isolated from the biopsy samples, expanded in culture through 10 passages, and evaluated with immunocytochemistry for valve cell markers. Two animals were sacrificed acutely, two animals died during the immediate postoperative period, and nine animals survived for four weeks or more. Results: All preoperative and pre-explantation echocardiograms were normal. Both animals sacrificed acutely showed that the tricuspid valve leaflet was indeed biopsied with this technique. Two perioperative deaths occurred; one animal died secondary to injury of the chorda tendinea with subsequent destruction of the posterior leaflet; another died from disruption of the superior vena cava that led to irreversible cardiac tamponade. At sacrifice (2 to 17 weeks), all other animals showed intact tricuspid valves with normal leaflet anatomy. All cultured biopsies generated myofibroblasts that were immunocytochemically positive for alpha smooth muscle actin, chondroitin sulfate, vimentin and fibronectin. Conclusion: Biopsy of the tricuspid valve to obtain recipient cardiac valve leaflet cells is possible, and the technique is simple and reliable. Biopsy of the leaflet does not compromise function. Interstitial cells can be harvested and expanded in culture. Cellular structure and function is preserved and is similar to that of other cardiac leaflet cells. Tricuspid valve leaflet biopsies are a potential source for harvesting cells to be used in the development of a tissue-engineered cardiac valve.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)264-269
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of Heart Valve Disease
Issue number2
StatePublished - Mar 2003


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