Tissue engineered vascular grafts for pediatric cardiac surgery
New technologies and science have contributed to improved surgical outcomes in patients with congenital cardiovascular diseases. However, current materials display shortcomings, such as risk of infection and lack of growth capacity when applied to the pediatric patient population. Tissue engineering has the potential to address these limitations as the ideal tissue engineered vascular graft (TEVG) would be durable, biocompatible, nonthrombogenic, and ultimately remodel into native tissue. The traditional TEVG paradigm consists of a scaffold, cell source, and the integration of the scaffold and cells via seeding. The subsequent remodeling process is driven by cellular adhesion and proliferation, as well as, biochemical and mechanical signaling. Clinical trials have displayed encouraging results, but graft stenosis is observed as a frequent complication. Recent investigations have suggested that a host’s immune response plays a vital role in neotissue formation. Current and future studies will focus on modulating host immunity as a means of reducing the incidence of stenosis.