In the relatively young field of cardiac tissue engineering, different biomaterials, methods and techniques have been tested for cardiac repair. In this study we examined the validity of a series of new preformed membrane scaffolds, based on collagen type I, for the transplantation of cardiac cells. One type of membrane, cross-linked with 1,4-butanediol diglycidyl ether (BDDGE) and fibronectin-enriched, gave rise to spontaneously beating heart cell constructs 5–9 days after seeding with neonatal rat cardiac cells. This membrane was then grafted, with and without beating cardiac cells, onto the infarcted area of rat models of heart failure. Seriate echocardiography, performed on rats before transplantation and at 4 and 8 weeks after transplantation, showed that rats that received collagen membranes with beating cells showed an improvement in cardiac function after 8 weeks. These results suggest that this new type of collagen membrane can be used as vector for the transplantation of beating heart cells to the injured myocardium, hence representing an important potential tool for cardiac tissue repair technologies.

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